Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Emperor Strikes Back - Montmirail 1814 at Historicon 2014, Take 1

In a moment of unusual sanity, I opted to run the battle of Montmirail twice at Historicon this year, rather than two different 1814 battles. This post concerns the first rendition, played on Friday night from about 7 - 11:30 PM. Barry and I had playtested it 6 months ago, and tweaked it a bit,. Overall, it seemed to be a very solid scenario (posted previously to this blog),with the main down side being the potential for the Prussian player to be relatively inactive (as the Prussians were historically!). Figyures are 28mm, rules were Field of Battle, 2nd edition. Of course, no scenario fully survives contact with a group of gamers, to paraphrase the well know military aphorism.  But I am getting ahead of the story...

French Set up:  Ricard's Division of Conscripts, seen here in greatcoats and 1812 pattern standards. French far left. My Historicon roomate, Tim C. of London had this command.

French Set up: Friant's Old Guard Division, and the Guard Foot and Horse Artillery. French Left Middle. Gabriel had Friant, and the Guard Artillery was part of the other Tim C's command.

Two small Russian Corps of 2 Divisions, each of  2 Jager and 4 Line regiments. Being Russian, they come with many guns! Barry had the near Coropsm, and Sammy had the far one. 

Close up of the 2nd Russian Corps; all Barry's Front Rank figures, and Sammy's command. 

French Right Center - Old Guard Cavalry Division, including the Chasseurs a Cheval and Mamelukes (2 units), Grenadiers a Cheval and Gendarmes d'Elite (2 units), and the Empress Dragoons, all part of Tim C's command.

French Far right set up: Small division of 2 Guard Lancer units (Polish and the Dutch "red" lancers), Young Guard cavalry Division of 5 units ("heavily disguised" as French line cavalry, to borrow from my friend James' blog!).  This was Dan's command.

The lead Brigade of Yorck's Prussians, in column of march. Due to the mud, all artillery movement was reduced 50%. The multicolored felt swatches are due to table cloth, which I think came out great, only being 10.5 feet long instead of 12 feet - the heather type tan felt was perfect for what I needed, but that was all they had! Ken had the Prussians. 

Close up of the far French right. 

A Russian cavalry Division held the Russian Left; one Division each of Barry's star crossed Dragoons, and one of Hussars. The near units only are mine, one each Old Glory and  Minifigs, the rest are all Front Rank. Andy (Sammy's Dad) had the Russian horsemen. 

A view from the Russian rear. 

Looking across the battlefield at the French Old Guard infantry.

Ken Baggaley commanded the Prussians. He had hot dice for his MOVEs, and brought the Prussians up as quickly and as far as possible, allowing for the mass of French Young Guard cavalry (under Dan) facing off against him.

Dan has turned the entire Young Guard cavalry Division to contain the Prussians. He has no artillery or infantry support, however. 

A stalemate existed between them... until Ken's Prussian artillery, dragged laboriously through the thick, cold mud, started to deploy.

They Old Guard Cavalry boldly, perhaps recklessly, charged into the teeth of the Russian guns and Dragoons. They were fairly successful at taking out the guns, but the Dragoons, which had so often appeared on the Roll of Dishonor, repulsed several units of the Emperor's Finest. Perhaps Barry's threat to sell them on E-Bay finally awakened their martial spirit?

No less than three Old Guard cavalry units routing for home! Sacre Bleu!

The Old Guard Infantry was also launched into the teeth of the Russian main line, with Ricard's conscripts moving up somewhat cautiously in support.  Meanwhile, the Middle Guard Division has arrived. Perhaps spooked by the surprising alacrity of the Prussians, the Guard Horse artillery and half of the Middle Guard are dispatched to the French right. Could take a long time to get there, though...

The Chasseurs a Pied tussle with the Russian infantry, routing several battalions.... but there are more where those came from!

The 2 lone regiments of Guard lancers are looking more than a bit outnumbered, especially with the arrival of the Prussian Cavalry as well (mostly Landwehr, though). 

You are beautiful, but vulnerable, mon cheris!

The Gendarmes d'Elite celebrate their tabletop debut by running down a Russian battery!

The French Old Guard Infantry is performing valiantly, but three units against 12 is a bit long odds, even for the Grognards!

Overview of the center mid battle; the Old Guard infantry in line seem to be daring the mass of Russian Cavalry to charge them!

Dan finally realizes that a few units of his superior cavalry are enough to keep the Prussians honest and relatively bottled up, and throws some support back at the Russian and Prussian cavalry to keep them occupied. 

The remaining Young Guard cavalry try charging an unscathed Prussian square, composed of Grenadiers. Needless to say, the hotheads of the regiment perished in the attempt, while the remainder got a painful lesson in Napoleonic Tactics 101!  "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre: c'est de la folie!"

Overview of the right, mid to late game. The French are almost down to zero morale chips, while the Russians have about 20 left. This doesn't look good for H.M. the Emperor!

The Guard Horse Artillery and half the Middle Guard infantry continue to march further off to the French right flank, to counter the perceived Prussian threat, which is more apparent than real. 

Prussian Landwehr cavalry beset from the front and rear by Guard cavalry. As we say in Piquet/Field of Battle, "you can always roll a one..."

Not this time, though - the Guard sliced through the Landwehr like fresh pate de fois gras! On they went into the Russian Hussars...

whilst their Dragoon counterparts decided to test the mettle of the Old Guard infantry. 

Charge home, Ivan!

Having seen the Grenadiers a Pied trampled under, the Gendarmes d'Elite trot forward to succor their bearskinned foot bretheren. 

On the French left, the Russian infantry senses victory on the air, and  surges forward to engage Ricard's plucky conscripts. 

Grand Charge of the Guard Cavalry! Marshal Bessieres would have been proud.

At this point, the French turned a "MOVE ONE COMMAND" card. They were debating using it for the Old Guard, now down to three units, which were unloaded and battered. The GM (tip of the chapeau), an admitted Francophile, was heard to utter something like, "Nom de Dieu, Attaque de la Garde Moyen!", pointing out that the tired Grumblers needed support badly. Gabriel promptly rolled a "Triple Magic Move" for them, and the tide began to turn in favor of the Emperor!

The Gendarmkes d'Elite continue their glorious first outing, supported by the now rallied Grenadiers a Cheval, who are eager to make amends for their earlier shame under the every eyes of  Le Petit Caporal!

The Russian Cavalry, tired from earlier charges, is feeling the pressure as they get tag teamed by the horseman of the French Guard.

Overview of the infantry battle, as the French Guard commence their Vegomatic imitation, slicing and dicing the opposing Russians!

Barry's Dragoons finally remember their routing ways!

The outnumbered Russian cavalry is being slowly consumed .

The Middle Guard overuns a battery and seizes both villages (worth 4 Morale Points a piece, although I forgot that part of the scenario). Note the routing Russian infantry units at the table edge. What had seemed impossible 30 minutes earlier has happened - the Russians are at zero Morale chips, and will quit the field. Napoleon seems back to his old self on the battlefield, in a way not seen since 1809! Vive l'Empereur!


  1. Great photos! A fine report! Thank!

  2. What a great AAR, love it, must have been a cracking game


    1. It was a great game, and a lot of fun. One of the more dramatic reversals of fate that I have seen!

  3. Gendarmes d'elite victorious in their first clash. Stupendous!

    The game looks first rate and quite large for a convention game.

    Good job to you for being able to moderate, take photos, and put together a cohesive Batrep singlely!

    Very enjoyable!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Jon!

    The Gendrames gave a very good account of themselves in both versions. They were not amused by that "The Immortals" crap the rest of the Guard tagged them with, and were out to prove themselves, it seems!

    The game was actually quite easy to run, with all of the players except Sammy having played in at least several of my FoB games in the past. Sammy's Dad helped him, and he fought his Russian Infantry command with skill and grace!

  5. Great report Peter, and it is nice to see all those units you have toiled away at on the table and in action.

    1. Thanks, Lawrence. The games were well worth it!

  6. Good looking game. Quite a turnaround for Barry's dragoons, no shame agsinst the guard.

    1. Barry's Dragoons performed pretty well this game, especially considering the opposition!

  7. Excellent report Peter. At Montmirail the pressure is all on the French player(s) not to lose. It sounds like your Russian and Prussian players were undaunted by all that guard, but the weight of numbers of high quality troops came through in the end (with a bit of help from the partisan umpire, hey?!).
    What happened in part two, or do I have to be patient and wait for the report?!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, James! The second game report will be posted soon...