Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Maloyaroslavets, 1812 (Historicon 2012, pt 5)

     This game was run on Saturday afternoon; the scenario and playtest were previously posted. Walter, Jamie, and Gabriel played on the French side of the "Traffic Jam" as Gabriel so aptly put it, while Tim was one of the Russian players; Dave and Michelle later took some of the Reserve commands, if I recall correctly. There was one error in the deployment that effected the game; the Russian Reserve Artillery shouldn't have entered until late in the game (the 5th Russian MOVE card, I think), but instead started on the table in March column at the start of the game!

The French start with just a single Division over the sole bridge and deployed in the village of Maloyaroslavets; The river is class III (hardest to cross at baseline) but only for Infantry, and even then the units have to roll for failed crossing and Unit Integrity losses due to hypothermia, and are all Out of Command when they finally do reach the far bank. In addition, the bulk of the table is Class II rough terrain for Movement only, reducing the rate of advance by 50% for all units not moving on a road. 

The French get lucky and turn a LOT of MOVE cards early on; note the laggard French line unit stuck in the stream with the pig (Out of Command) and the rock (one UI lost) from a failed attempt to cross this MOVE.

The Russian forces, by contrast pulled very few MOVE cards all game; however, their artillery was unlimbered, and what they *did* turn instead was a ton of ARTILLERY FIREPOWER cards; especially with the addition of the Reserve batteries, the Russians really pounded the French units as they each crested the ridge and showed their face, so things were actually working pretty well for them despite their relative immobility!

A horde of Cossacks cross the stream, at the bridge and otherwise (the stream was merely class II, a minor obstacle only), threatening the French right flank. 

The French pour reinforcements into the battle quite rapidly with all of the MOVE cards they turned, but the terrain is still making their advance very slow...

This was about the forward point that the French got all games; now some fresh Russians are starting to arrive as well, including... still more Russian artillery!

The French have little success in expanding their bridgehead beyond the village, and especially are finding it hard to deploy their own Artillery units!

The Russian Infantry advances to engagement range on their left, but seems content to just support their Artillery in their right.

Walter has set up a defensive line in the woods on the French right flank. 

Overview of the battle at this point, the French have sole control of Maloyaroslavets itself, but can do little else except bring on more reserves!

Gabriel's French commands try to extend the French left flank and thus threaten the Russian right flank without enduring the heavy artillery fire.

The view of the Battlefield from the French left flank; almost all of their forces are finally deployed, but still very crowded. The pounding inflicted bu the Russian artillery means French Morale Points have dwindled rapidly! 

The Russians launch their first assault on the village, as still *more* of their artillery comes on!!

Walter's Italian Cavalry defeats several units of Cossacks; Dave M has assumed their command, and on the next ARMY MORALE card rolls a D20 for officer survival... and rolls a "1". A field ambulance is seen picking up the wounded general, and all of his troops become Out of Command!

It is too little, too late, and the French Army reaches zero Army Morale. With little prospect of overcoming the huge deficit in Morale points, the French concede, dooming the army to the Northern route over lands already picked clean, and the bitter cold of the Russian winter to come...



  1. Another great AAR and I think it shows just how well Field Of Battle can handle big games with lots of units Great stuff

  2. Thanks, Guys; glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed running it. And yes, FoB does handle large numbers of units well, as well as large numbers of players.

  3. Great writeup Peter. You certainly nailed all of the key moments of the battle. This definitely wasn't one of those ebb and flow affairs more like march into firing range and die where you stand.

    I don't begrudge the Russians the extra artillery, they needed it! The French had the most experienced generals in the game and playing the game. Mistakes were made but not so many as on the Russian side.

    The intense terrain made for a frustrating game in a fun way. I think it made for a better reflection of the state of the French troops on the retreat. After months of marching on short rations and the bitter cold, even a nice flat meadow could feel like trudging up the Alps. No fresh troops marching out of their bivouacs on full bellys and the yet to be eaten horses couldn't have been very capable battle mounts.

    I do concede victory to the Russians based upon the number of fresh troops still arriving but actually the French were NOT out of morale when time was up. We were hiding it under some terrain to keep the Russkies from knowing just how bad off we were. I believe we were somewhere in the 8-11 range at the end of time.

    Congrats to Tim, Dave, Michelle, the Professor and Maryann on a battle well fought.

    1. I was just reviewing the scenario description and had forgotten about the Morale benefit of taking the town. The French commanders felt that we should have gotten credit for holding the town each turn, mostly because we are French and we think we are better than everyone else. ;)

      I noticed that your play test didn't start with the French holding the town.

      I don't think this rule materially affected the outcome of the Historicon game, but it certainly didn't incent the Russians to do more than sit back and pound us with their artillery!

      Tim did an excellent job of making due with the limited Russian movement to threaten the town.


    2. Thanks for the "eyewitness account"; always best to refer to the "primary sources"! :-)

      Thanks also for the insightful comments!

      I mis typed; the French didn't start in Maloyaroslavets, but were closer to the village proper; all the MOVE cards you guys pulled just made it seem like you started there.

      The Class III terrain plateau in the center of the table was frustrating for both sides; I toyed making it class II for Melee and fire as well, but I felt that would both slow the game down even more, and historically it was more noted as being very difficult to move on rather than being of defensive value. I alos considered reducing it to class II, but that really has very limited effects, and while it would have sped up the game, it wouldn't adequately model the difficulty both sides had, especially the French, in bringing up troops. That's one thing about gaming a historical scenario; you can tweak it a bit in the interest of a better game (and I did!), but if you deviate too much from the actual action, it doesn't teach you much about the battle. This scenario really shows how difficult a job the French had if they were to defeat the Russians and push them back so that the rest of the Army could proceed on down the road. Note that the Italians largely missed Borodino, so there were (allegedly) fairly eager to "prove" themselves to the rest of the Army.

      I had forgotten that the wily FRench had concealed their Morale points effectively (recommended). Evidently that is what Napoleon must be holding in the hand that is always depicted in his jacket! After all, we know that he liked to produce fresh troops "out of the hat" at the crisis of a battle; he was also known to cheat outrageously at cards!

      The scenario I adopted this one from had holding Maolyarslavets for X period of time as a key victory condition; Because of the nature of the sequence decks in FoB, and the fluid nature of time in the game, I didn't think that would work, although I attempted something a bit like it in the playtest (where the Russians got the jump), and changed it for the actual game to the way we played it.

      Thanks again, EWalt for playing and the thoughtful observations. Hope to see you again in 20131


  4. Peter, very nice reports and great pictures. You H-Rats did it again! Congratulations! 6000 figures on a table is very impressive.
    Looks like you guys had a great time. Very, very nice.

    1. Thanks Thomas; I'll look forward to when you're able to go again!