Sunday, October 19, 2008

Important Bridge Part 2

A column of French infantry slogs its way across the hot dusty countryside somewhere in Flanders..Having left you Colonel Pettygrew style, hopefully champing at the bit to find out how the game turned out, I guess you're now wondering what happened...

The Game

First things first - I as the British had to throw for the arrival time of the troops arriving at point D. These were a not insignificant force as they were comprised of some good, solid, British infantry, my only Guards unit and also my only artillery... almost half my entire force.

With some trepidation then, the D6 was thrown and came up a "3" - not good, but not bad either....

DG and I then threw for who was first to move, and DG having won, he proceeded to march his units on to the table via their respective entry points, and in the order he had previously documented. The rule was simple, the units could only arrive in column of march, could not enter the table except behind the previous unit, and could not deploy until the move after they had completely arrived on the table...

Not surprisingly there was a fair amount of marching in column, as speed to the bridge was of the essence and a change of formation would entail unnecessary delay.. The picture above, and at the top of the page, is of DG's column entering at point B, following are my troops entering at point C - you can see that I'd taken the time to shake the cavalry (Nassau-Friesland - Dutch and behind them Alt-Hanover Cuirassiers - Austrian) into line once I'd got far enough on to the table not to impede the infantry marching behind.

Using his Cuirassiers to the full, first blood in the game went to DG, with a full squadron over the bridge, and a second squadron actually on it, well before my guys had even managed to put in an appearance - see picture below - you might imagine that at this point I was getting a bit worried that my column arriving at "D" would have to fight it's way on to the table!

Happily, just as the Cuirassiers exited the bridge, the first of the British column at "D" entered, and I had opted for my cavalry to lead - there then ensued a truly comical comedy of errors as both DG and I threw lousy dice to manage the formation change of our respective squadrons to line (see the blue dice which we use to mark disorganisation in the following!!) and failed completely:

Eventually however, "good training" will out and the first engagement of the game was between the now organised British cavalry and the first squadron of Cuirassiers. Being still disorganised the Cuirassiers didn't bother to fire... and in the subsequent test the Bavarian's threw high, and broke from the melee so badly that they took casualties - score one to the Allies as the cuirassier squadron routed towards "B".

Leaving my units at "D" to make their way onto the board and face off DG's units arriving from "B", I decided to try something a little different on my left flank, and with all the forces having arrived on the table from entry "C" I sent them across the river, fording just by the church - in retrospect this was a foolish move, but at the time it seemed like a sound plan to break the deadlock of trying to fight on narrow frontages across the bridge.

Unfortunately the attack came to nothing, and I guess it was from this point that the British dice started to turn against them... firstly, I had sent too few units - an attack of that type really needs some weight behind it, and three battalions was not enough.
  • One of the regiments (Rechteren - first battle and suffering from "new unit" syndrome!) was hit by the French artillery, was pushed back, and then routed (could I throw under 5 on one D6?? Could I heck as like....)
  • The second unit was then hit by the artillery, made it to the church wall, but was faced by overwhelming French units - including the wild geese who were definitely not suffering from "new unit syndrome"! Cue them to break as well.....
  • The third unit (Stirler's - Swiss in Dutch pay) occupied the church and then came out to face the hordes - surprisingly they drove the French regiment directly to their front off with casualties - but by the time this happened it was too little too late...
Rechteren take cover in the church yard
End of the battle and Stirler's stand proudly in front of the church - the French regiment they had driven off can be seen at the table edge, but now recovered and ready to come back at them..

The main focus of the battle had shifted to the British right flank and the open area between "D" and "B" - DG and I battled for some considerable time in that little part of Flanders!

First success went to the British (this was just before the turning point mentioned above!) with the British cavalry (fresh from their success against the Cuirassiers) driving off the French cavalry (De Montreval).

The Foot Guards who had come up with the cavalry to help provide an overlap, then charged and drove off the first of the French regiments (Toulouse). Unfortunately any further success, however, was not to be...

First the cavalry were driven off by one of the French regiments and then the Guards began to slow down - good as they were they couldn't take on the whole of the French army on their own, and Ingoldsby's who had come up in support were also driven off in rout following some devastating shooting. Three prime units all running for the board edge, and could I still throw under 4 or 5 for a morale recovery? I refer you to my previous response....!

The Dutch cavalry seeing the previously routed cuirassier squadron forming then launched a ferocious charge while still in column and contacted them on the flank - unable to return fire the Cuirassiers were routed for the second time, and the Dutch pursued inflicting further damage until they in turn were attacked by the now recovered De Montreval and driven off in their turn..

British morale was now at a considerable low - the dice were definitely not playing ball, and I could not get any momentum going in the attack. In such situations there's only one thing to do - so I put the kettle on...

Following refreshments and reflection I decided the next steps - the objective was the bridge and I was going to make damn sure I got to a point where I could deny the dastardly French the victory...

By this time the last British battalion had come on, with the artillery just in front of them. The artillery deployed, opened fire, and then proceeded to hit very little (damn dice again), but the one bright spot in the British firmament was the attack by Meredith's across the bridge.

DG had finally managed to get the second squadron of Cuirassiers off the bridge and had brought up the Royal Italiene to hold his end of the span - up came Meredith's, flags flying, drums and fifes going for all they were worth. Marched across the bridge, and a devastating volley from the French sent them back... pausing only to recover their morale, shake themselves down, pick up their brigadier for additional moral support, and strike out again - back over they went...

This time the Royal Italiene missed, but not only that, so did the French artillery.... even more unlikely, the Royal Italiene then failed their test to stand and routed away!! Meredith's proudly marched over and took ownership of the inn.... now that's a battle honour in anyone's book!!

Meredith's charge across the bridge..

Unfortunately - that was the end of the battle, with most of my forces scattered DG had ignored Meredith's and sent the wild geese (Lee's) across the bridge to support his other regiments, and I decided that honour was the better part of valour and that I would surrender....
Final situation - Lee's are crossing the bridge to help out the French line, my only available troops are the half strength squadron of horse, and Orkney's who were also under strength...

Post Match Analysis:
  • The game played well but with some huge swings in luck to DG and I; I definitely had the first third of the game, but after that it went wholly DG's way - in one of my moves I threw three separate dice looking to score under 4 or 5 and failed them all - three regiments failed morale! Ah well, such is life when you trust to lady luck to keep an eye on your little metal men.....
  • This is about the eighth or ninth game we've played with these rules now and we didn't have any glaring issues with them - two things I will look into are:
    1. Army break points - I think both DG and I are a long way past fighting to the last man. We both agreed that in a scenario like this then my army should have broken a lot earlier than it did - one of the idea's we have is to steal the simple mechanism they use in the Blitzkrieg Commander set... a break point that is a proportion of the army's strength, with the breakpoint set high or low depending on the level of training of the army..
    2. Attacks/melee's when in column of march - it seems strange that we don't consider the frontage of the attacking unit in a melee situation - one for some further thought..
  • Tea on this occasion was the excellent PG Tips de-caffeinated; I'm now a fan, and am quite willing to admit I was in the wrong about de-caffeinated! The biscuits were a triumph being McVities Oat and Chocolate Chip cookies - and very nice they were as well!


  1. Hi there Steve,

    By all accounts, it looks and sounds like a wonderful game. Your wonderful layout is always an inspiring spectacle to behold. A frind and I will have a stab at the Teaser in Battlesgames 14 next month via e-mail. Watch for it on OSW and my blog. You and DG have provided some big shoes for us to fill! ;-)

    Best Regards,


  2. Thank you for the quick "part II", Steve. I don't have any more patience than does a 5-year old.

    Looks like it was an interesting battle once again.

    -- Jeff

  3. Boo hiss to the frogeaters!

    Donogh and I have been using army break points for our Memoir44/Battlecry campaign games. Generally the army breaks at 50% +/- a variety of factors for training, objectives held, etc. We also sometimes add the roll of a d4 to the break point and keep that secret, so that while players have some idea of how much damage they have to do to break the enemy it's not completely predictable.

  4. Conrad Kinch - yes, that was what I was thinking - Blitzkrieg Commander has a breakpoint in terms of "elements" lost, I was thinking of making it a percentile of the total morale strength of the army (ie. strength points plus morale bonues/penalties) - the only question then is the percentage to pick...

    I was concerned 50% might be a bit low, so I'm interested in your modifiers - can you share more?

  5. Fifty percent is pretty brutal in my experience at least. I made some notes on the subject when I was running my FIW campaign (differant, but similar system), I'll dig them out when I get home.

  6. Steve,

    I think that it depends a lot on how you view "casualties".

    Are they actual men lost?

    Or are they merely an indication of lost combat effectiveness?

    If the first, then 50% losses is way too much in my opinion. I'd suggest perhaps after losses between 25% to 33% depending upon morale quality.

    On the other hand, if it is the latter, it might be okay.

    But you know your rules (which I've never played), so that should give you some idea.

    -- Jeff