Saturday, June 25, 2022

Polish napoleonic line infantry - 13th and 4th regiments

 



It's been another a dry spell lately as far as painting goes, but for the past few weeks I've been working away on some Polish line infantry figures, which are now finally done. These are painted as the 13th and 4th regiments, the former of which had white jackets as opposed to the normal blue. Finding good reference materials for the uniforms wasn't easy, so there are no doubt a few errors in the details.

Newline Designs only have a small selection of Polish troops in their Napoleonic range, but enough to allow me to add some variety to my French army. I have two more units to paint, which I'll get round to at some point.

The flags used are made by Tiny Tin Troops, and are from their 22mm range. It's the first time I've used TTT flags, and I'm very pleased with the quality. They're perhaps slightly larger than what I'd normally use, but not enough to matter. I'm planning to use TTT flags from now on, and may go back and replace some of my older flags with TTT ones on certain units.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A spot of painting

 

A pretty quiet first few months of the year for me hobby-wise, so haven't had much to post about really. I did paint up these additional command figures for my Prussian and French armies, plus a few Portuguese cacadores just for the fun of it.

The French generals are Jerome (left) and Marcognet – part of the pack of French Waterloo generals that Newline Designs sells. I have a few others still to paint. The Prussian figures include a landwehr colonel, two generals and an ADC. At least, I think that's right (I'm never quite sure if the figure with the bicorne is an ADC or not!)

The cacadores were nice and quick to paint. I particularly like the kneeling figure, but they're all great sculpts.

I'm hoping to get another game to the table soon. It's been too long since my last one. Currently looking at some scenario ideas for Shadow of the Eagles, so I'll hopefully have something to share again soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Field of Battle - first game



Over the course of yesterday morning and the previous evening, I played through my first full game using the Field of Battle rules by Brent Oman. Now in their 3rd edition, the rules are an evolution of Piquet, a system originally written by Bob Jones. You don't need Piquet to play FoB; it's an entirely stand-alone game.

Field of Battle is structured around each side using a set of cards to dictate movement, combat and leadership. Play alternates from one side to the other depending on initiative rolls. The number of cards being turned also depends on the result of those initiative rolls, so there's an exciting and unpredictable flow to the game. Opposed dice rolls are used to resolve the action, with polyhedral dice being used instead of just the standard d6. For example, to conduct a melee I might be rolling a d10 for one side and a d8 for another. Any action modifiers will modify the dice type up or down, rather than the actual result rolled. It's a wonderfully simple and effective idea. To extend the example above, the side rolling a d8 might find itself being attacked in the flank, in which case it would have to roll a d6 instead of a d8.

Before getting stuck in, I did wonder if all the various situational dice modifiers would end up being too much for my brain to handle, but I'm happy to say this wasn't the case. Probably by around the half way point of the game, I'd managed to memorise most of them.

In short, I really like this system! Other people have said how much they enjoy Field of Battle (and other Piquet games) for solo play, and I have to agree. Although it is primarily intended for two or more players, the use of cards to drive everything makes it very solo-friendly.

My game, as always, was a Napoleonic battle between the French and the Prussians, and a real nail-biter it was too! Both sides had beaten each other down to zero Army Morale Points, which is the point at which an army is in danger of capitulating if its CinC fails a command roll on turning the appropriate card. In the end, it was the French who failed theirs first, so victory belonged to the Prussians, but it was only a marginal one.

I don't have a full battle report to present this time, but here are a few photos from the game, and a few comments along the way.

The battlefield was a farily simple one, selected from the 'Season of Battle' maps that are included in this latest edition of FoB. There's a single road running through a town, with large hills on either flank. In the photo above the game is well under way with the Prussians (nearest the camera) deployed in strength on their right flank. However, the French took control of the town first and managed to cling on to it all day.

The action at the other end of the table was more spread out, with Prussian and French cavalry duelling it out. The Prussians also had guns dug in on the hill here, which did cause some damage to the French cavalry but otherwise spent most of its time engaged in futile counter-battery fire.

Above: a view from the Prussian side as they try to storm the town. The small coloured labels are unit and command group identifiers. I used a roster to record unit stats and hits.

In the centre of the battlefield, outside the town, the Prussians took up a holding position. The two French command groups opposite them gradually moved closer, with the French guns eventually taking their toll.

On the right, the Prussian cavalry got the better of their French counterparts. Both units of French chasseurs were eventually either eliminated or routed from the field, but by the end of the battle the two French hussar units were still holding their own.

With the cavalry combat going the way of the Prussians, they decided to send the landwehr over to attack the French centre. This helped drive the French back a bit and gave the Prussian centre some breathing space.

By the end of the game, the French left was in danger of being overrun, but their first command group inside the town had rallied well and was proving difficult to shift. Along the top edge of the above picture, you can just make out two Prussian infantry units routing off the table. The Prussians did manage to fight their way into one of the town sections in the end, but never came close to knocking the French out entirely.

The action in the centre of the field ended up being a bloody affair for both sides. The above photos shows the landwher cavalry routing, not far from a lone French infantry unit that has punched through the Prussian lines. On their side, the French have one unit in rout, whilst their main artillery command had to redeploy further back after being badly damaged. At top-right, you can just make out one of the Prussian foot artillery units having turned round to fire on the remaining French cavalry (off screen)

For most of the game, the French were actually outnumbered. One of their command groups (containing four infantry units) was found to be delayed in arriving (part of the Season of Battle pre-game set-up process, which I decided to use even though this wasn't a linked battle). A series of horrible command rolls meant that by the time this command group finally reached the field, the battle was over (somebody's going to get the sack for sure!)

So, a very close-fought battle that easily could have gone either way. In my mind I think of it as one of those ones from history where both sides claimed victory.

A view of all the figures that took part in the game. (Still a few command figures to finish off.)

Field of Battle gets a definite thumbs-up from me. I'm looking forward to giving it another game, perhaps with slightly altered command groups. As far as table and figure sizes go, I found my 20mm collection worked quite well on my 6 x 4 feet table. I used the measurements in the rules at 75% of what's stated, with my units having a frontage of approximately 3 inches. There were six command groups on each side, with roughly four units per command group. I think my table could have accommodated at least a couple more command groups per army, so there's definitely scope to play a bigger battle if I wanted to.

A spot of painting next, I think. I'm planning to finish off some command figures for the French and Prussians, and then have a go at painting some limbers.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Portuguese line and Spanish light infantry

 

A busy end to the year meant no real time for gaming this month, but I'm hoping to at least get something set up and started before heading back to work in January.

I did, however, manage to get this unit of Portuguese line infantry done. It took longer than expected but was well worth the effort. I do like this earlier version of the Portuguese uniform with the barretina cap. For reference, I used a colour plate from the Blandford book of uniforms on the Peninsular War showing a sergeant of the 18th infantry.

A while back Sean from Newline Designs very kindly added some Spanish light infantry to one of my orders. It's taken me a while to get round to painting them, but here's how a few of them turned out. I'll get round to painting the rest of the unit at some point. The reference I used for these was a Gerry Embleton illustration from Martin Windrow's book, Military Dress of the Peninsular War - another excellent book of Napoleonic uniforms and well worth picking up. It shows a trooper from the Spanish 2nd light infantry regiment. I think it has to be among the most colourful infantry uniforms from the whole war - making them look a bit like dismounted hussars. Very impressive! 

I'm not entirely sure what my next game will be. I had intended to give Lasalle 2 a try out, then thought about doing another Shadow of the Eagles game. Now I'm thinking of having a go at Field of Battle (now in its 3rd edition) after buying the PDF the other day. I'll just have to see where my enthusiasm takes me. I'm particularly interested in seeing how Field of Battle works as a choice for solo gaming. I've read lots of good things from others who enjoy it especially for this reason. There's also a campaign system included in the new edition called 'Season of Battle', which looks like it would be quite enjoyable for linking games in a meaningful way without much additional effort.

So, I'll see what happens between this blog post and the next post.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Young Guard voltigeurs

 


Now that the rebasing project is mostly out the way, I can finally get back to a spot of painting again. My French and Prussian armies are both at useful gaming sizes, so there's no real pressure any more to get particular units or troop types done. I can cherry pick things from the lead pile as and when I want. I have a number of guard infantry and cavalry units still to do, so I thought it was about time I added this unit of Young Guard, painted as voltigeurs.

I don't know a great deal about the uniforms of the Young Guard, but from what I could gather the lack of shako cords on these figures must mean they represent a later period of the Napoleonic wars, but I could be wrong.

Thanks again to warflag.com for the fanion. I only realised at the last moment that Young Guard regiments didn't carry eagles, so a quick change of the flag pole was needed. Very nice figures from Newline Designs as always.

This now gives me two guard units for the French – enough for a small elite brigade for a Shadow of the Eagles game, I'm thinking.

What I'll paint next is anyone's guess. I have my eye on some Portuguese line infantry, but I just took delivery of my latest order from Newline for some Russian and Polish troops, so they're also in the mix now, as well as some artillery limbers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Shadow of the Eagles game - concluding thoughts

So, as sun goes down over the fictitious town of Nebenstrom, the French withdraw from the field and the Prussians are left to count the cost of their victory.

It had certainly been a close game and the scenario worked quite well. It provided just enough background to keep things interesting but was simple enough not to distract me from getting to grips with the rules. I think my idea of using an off-table brigade for each side, and rolling for its arrival each turn, helped add an extra bit of suspense.

The odds were probably stacked slightly against the French, seeing as they had some difficult terrain to get through on their way towards the town. They also suffered from a bit of bad luck in terms of their deployment and the later arrival of their off-table brigade.

The Prussian deployment wasn't perfect though, and it took a long time for their second infantry brigade to advance round on the right and cross the woods and stream. In the end, they didn't really do much in the battle, but they arrived just in time to keep the French reinforcements occupied.

I thought the Prussian cavalry gave a good account of themselves. They had to pull back out of the fight near the end, but by then they'd done enough to keep the French cavalry busy and disrupt the advance of Boche's infantry brigade towards to town. Having the landwehr reinforcements arriving on the Prussian left flank was a stroke of luck. Even though all three units were eventually routed, they played their part in distracting the French from their objective.

The fight for the town itself was pretty exciting, going back and forth. I have heard that some players are considering a modification to the rules for fighting in built-up areas, and I can understand why. It does feel a bit odd that you would still make use of line and column formations rather than skirmish or some sort of open order, but then again – in this game at least – it did all work out fine as far as providing a satisfying narrative of attack/repulse/counter-attack etc. I would maybe think about tweaking the use of formations in BUAs, and I will be interested to find out on the SotE forum what ideas other people might have, but on the whole I don't think I'll be too quick to dive in and change that much just yet. It was only one game after all.

Did I make any blunders?

Hopefully not too many! As I say, this was only my second outing. I think I got most of it right. Probably the most important thing I forgot about (and it is an optional rule anyway) was reserve movement. This allows units to move more quickly when they are a certain distance away from the enemy. I suddenly remembered about it at the start of turn 4, but by then it made more sense just to ignore it and carry on. I think I'll keep it in mind for future games. On a 6 x 4 foot table using the suggested measurements for 20mm figures, there is definitely scope for moving the units more quickly into the action.

The only other part of the rules I was unsure about was fighting in squares. I'm not entirely convinced I got this right. Essentially, I wasn't sure if I was rolling the correct number of combat dice for the French square when it was being attacked by the Prussian landwehr. I need to check this. In the end, the important thing was that I was happy that the outcome felt right. The Prussians basically ruined themselves in trying to break the square, and their fall back move precipitated the complete rout of the already severely weakened Prussian left flank. It was a memorable gaming moment, and this battle provided a clutch of them, which I think is a good sign you've had good fun.

(EDIT: Keith has kindly pointed out that one thing I did get wrong was my calculation victory points. Given that it's only about a third of a page of text, I really should have done a quick refresh before playing! There's more to it than just the basic totals I used (or 'Losses' to use the proper rule term). Wounded units are taken into account, as are leader casualties and the taking and retaking of objectives. In the end, using the correct method gave more or less the same result, and it still would have gone down to the final turn. I'll pay more attention to this next time!)

Movement

If there is one thing that makes me shy away from any game, it is complicated movement rules. In fact, I seem to have a developed a natural aversion to using any kind of measuring device these days. It's probably the reason why I haven't ventured much beyond my comfort zone of hex-based games like Commands & Colors. I'm happy to say, though, that Shadow of the Eagles doesn't burden you with complications when it comes to moving your toy soldiers around the table. The basic Napoleonic formations are represented (line, column, square, skirmish), and the table of movement rates for those formations and troop types are not too complicated once you get your head around it. Columns are good for moving your troops quickly about the battlefield, but you'll generally want to be in line formation when it comes down to shooting and fighting. Nice and simple really.

Firing

There is a separate firing phase in SotE, which is pretty straightforward. The most significant thing to point out is that all firing is simultaneous. I like that a lot. There is a shooting penalty for any significant moves, so stationary units will usually fair better against other units that advance and then engage in ranged combat in the same turn. Artillery didn't feel overpowered, but over the course of a few turns it has the potential to cause at least one or two hits on the enemy, enough to make a difference when that unit then tries to get stuck in. You're unlikely to destroy your opponent with artillery fire, but you can certainly soften them up a bit before your infantry and cavalry are sent in.

One thing to note about artillery is that the arc of fire is straight ahead, so careful positioning of artillery pieces in movement phase is important. I did wonder whether I might add a rule to allow for at least some small pivoting before each piece fires. If you move first in a turn, it's possible that your nicely lined-up target of infantry in column will simply march out of the sight of your guns. That could be a bit frustrating, but then again maybe that's the point.

A final thing I should say about firing, and about the accumulation of hits resulting from it, is that I didn't use the rules for skirmish screens in my game. It will be interesting to try out the skirmish screen rules next time round and see what effect it has.

Charging and combat

Charging takes place first in the movement phase and is one of the most interesting aspects of the rules. There are two stages to it, the first being closing fire and the second being the charge resolution. Both sides fire during the charge (including any nearby supporting units with line of sight, provided they successfully activate). If not enough damage is done to halt the chargers or drive off the defenders, then the two units will fight in the close combat phase.

I really like this aspect of the rules. It happened once or twice in my game that a charge failed to go in because the defender caused enough hits to weaken the charging unit. Equally, there were times when the attacker managed to drive off the defender before the two sides closed.

Close combats are usually resolved in one turn, one way or another. This isn't a game that will give you turn after turn where two units are grinding it out, and it's all the better for it. Usually one side will be forced to fall back or will rout altogether, depending on how damaged it already is. The victor might pursue, or might not. This leads to interesting decisions about what to do in the following turns. Do you try to rally your battered units before sending them into the fight again next turn, or do try to swap them out for fresh units? Do you press your advantage and pursue a retreating enemy, or do you hold your ground and consolidate?

There are some dice modifications to take into account when rolling combat dice, just as there is with firing. However, these are very few in number, and it's something else I was glad about. I don't usually like games where there are large tables of modifiers to consult. The ones in SotE are easy to memorise.

Morale and rallying

I didn't say all that much during the battle report about the rallying phase, but it is an important phase when it comes to using your commanders. The rally phase is where brigade and army generals can make a small movement to attach themselves to a unit (or detach from it, if already attached). They can then try to rally off hits from any unit they are attached to. Units can still attempt to rally even without a general attached, provided they are far enough away from the enemy, but it's easier to do if a general is attached. You'll find that generals – especially the army general – can be very useful in this respect, and you'll wish you had more of them!

You can also use generals to assist units during close combat, but you run the increased risk of leader casualties. My dice rolls favoured all of the generals in my game, except for poor Fournier, who was taken out by a fateful cannon shot right at the game's end.

Tactics

As I say, I've only played one proper game of Shadow of the Eagles, so I'm hardly in a position to talk about it with lots of experience. However, I can already see how the game will reward careful use of your forces when it comes to deployment, knowing when and where to attack with your troops, and keeping back some reserves if possible. Your units will start gathering hits fairly quickly once they're engaged, and I think there is a fine balance between knowing when to push on with an attack and when to withdraw your units and save them from routing. This idea is well supported in SotE by the nice and simple rules for passage of units, and by the rules for unrestricted movement backwards.

Units can recover from being almost annihilated, but they'll never be as fresh as they were at the start of the game. And it does take time to rally hits, unless you get some lucky rolls in the rally phase or you happen to have an army general to restore a unit's morale.

It's also worth adding that in Shadow of the Eagles there is the all-important luck of the dice. This is where the game scores again for me. Yes, there are rules and dice modifications that take account of formations and movement and whether a unit is weakened or not; whether it's charging over rough ground, or if it's behind an entrenchment. But even with these adjusted probabilities, few combats ever felt entirely like a foregone conclusion. There is enough room left for Lady Luck to play her part, and that is what brings an essential bit of excitement to the experience, without making it a completely random affair. And because firing and close combat are both simultaneous, there is almost always a cost to being involved in a fight. You may well destroy that infantry unit that is hanging on by 1 or 2 hits, but you may also take some hits yourself in the process and be left unable to do anything else for a turn or two, or worse.

Solo play

I am primarily a solo gamer, and you may be wondering how I found this aspect of playing with Shadow of the Eagles.

Up front, SotE isn't designed as a solo game, but my admittedly limited experience of using them hasn't shown me any reason why they don't work just fine for one player playing both sides. There are no game mechanisms like simultaneous movement, secret bidding for initiative, hidden orders, surprise strategies, or any other of those things that solo players can have trouble with.

The turn sequence is a nice mix of IGOUGO (charges, movement, rallying) and simultaneous play (firing, close combat), all of which can be managed just fine on your own.

Surprise, suspense, friction, fog of war – call it what you will – is usually a good thing for solo players, and there are certain aspects of SotE that contribute to this. For starters there are the command and control rules for particularly good or bad generals, and whether units can function fully if they happen to be outwith the command range of their brigade general. I deliberately made nearly all my units and generals regular/capable in this respect, just to give me one less thing to think about this time round, but it's definitely something I'll included in future games. Badly led brigades will have a tougher time doing what you want them to do, whilst those led by inspiring generals will potentially move much more quickly. For those of you who know Black Powder, it's a bit like the command rolls in that game, but without the extremes. You're much less like to witness the oddity of some units taking massive leaps across the table whilst others spend the whole day staring at the grass under their feet.

The rules for pursuit is another occasion where the dice are (potentially) in control. If you drive your enemy off during a charge, or force them to fall back during close combat, your victorious unit has to roll for pursuit, and depending on the dice roll you may or may not have control over what happens next. Again, it's a fun aspect for the solo player.

Like any game that isn't dedicated to solo play, I think it will be all about what ideas of your own that you bring to the table when using SotE. I used a very basic method for determining each side's battle plans and deployment, and introduced the idea of reinforcements arriving at an unknown turn. Those things aren't covered in SotE. There are no rules for brigade orders or deployment, but those can easily be bolted on. There are also no rules for game length or how many minutes a turn of play actually represents. Those are for you to decide, and I think it's something that you'll get a better idea of with experience. In my game, 8 turns happened to be just about right, which was a bit of a fluke. I could have played another 2 or 3 turns, but I think the battle had reached a satisfying conclusion by that point and I was happy to end it.

Whether you're playing alone or with an opponent, I think it's important to give thought to your scenario, and that's probably true of most wargames, regardless of what period of history it represents. Simply lining both armies up and shuffling them straight across the table gets dull very quickly, and Shadow of the Eagles would be no different if you played it that way. What SotE is, is a good engine, and you can add your own chrome in the form of interesting scenarios and set-ups – and of course a campaign system, if you use one.

Final thoughts

I hadn't meant to make this post go on for so long, but if you're still with me, you'll probably realise by now that I am liking Shadow of the Eagles. When I first heard about them last year, I understood that author Keith Flint wanted to create a set of rules that were easy to play but not so simple as to be, well, boring. That got me interested, and I'm pleased to say they have exceeded expectations.

There are, of course, a tonne of Napoleonic rulesets out there, and lots of them are excellent. I own quite a few, but have only played maybe half a dozen. That hardly makes me the most experienced Napoleonic wargamer in the world, but wargaming preferences are a personal thing, and I think searching for the holy grail of Napoleonic rules to use for your games is actually more about discovering what kind of gamer you are than it is about trying to find a great set of rules. For me, SotE feels like a coat that fits. I'm sure I will not stop being interested in other rules (Lasalle 2 is still on the agenda for next time), but I fully intend to play many more games with SotE, and I am confident they will be just as enjoyable as this one.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Shadow of the Eagles game - the final turns, 6 to 8

TURN 6

The Prussians again won the initiative. I should mention here that I wasn't using any of the rules for initiative bonuses in this game, just a straight d6 roll off, which the Prussians had now won six times in a row!

In SotE, any required command checks are done at the start of each side's movement phase, and once more the Prussian landwehr cavalry on the far left failed its roll and would do nothing this turn.

The Prussian uhlans were within charge reach of the French chasseurs, so they decided to gallop forwards and keep the pressure up against the French on this side of the field. The chasseurs failed to counter-charge and would receive the uhlans at the halt (which actually turned out to be a blessing). There was no closing fire to conduct here (cavalry don't fire, and the uhlans were not with the arc of fire of the adjacent French horse artillery).

Prussian uhlans charge the French chasseurs a cheval

In the town, the Prussian army general, Wolff, brought his unit of line infantry further forwards, while outside the town the other infantry unit from Kraus's brigade reformed out of square and moved up to the edge of the built-up area.

The two infantry battalions from Kraus's brigade move up

In the French movement phase, the two remaining battalions of Boche's brigade resumed the fight for the town. CinC Dubois lead one column into the town, whilst the other charged across the stream to engage the Prussians. They received 1 hit from close fire as they rushed forward, but not enough to halt their charge.

The French re-enter the town

French army general Dubois bravely leads from the front

On the right-hand side of the battlefield, the French foot artillery limbered up and moved away from the approaching Prussians and Leroy's leading battalions shook themselves out into line. As the Prussians finally reached the the scene of the action, Major General Goode, having enjoyed taking the scenic route to the battle, saw the French up ahead and looked forward to soon getting down to the hard business of fighting.

Prussian infantry finally emerge from the woods to threaten the French left

Boche's foot artillery limber up and try to move to safety

During the firing phase, the left side of the battlefield was a busy place as both sides blazed away at one another. The French had brought forward it's flanking battalion in line, seeing as the Prussian landwehr weren't going to be a threat this turn.

Lots of firing on this side of the battlefield this turn

As the Prussian commander, I realised at this point I should have moved the injured hussars out of harm's way, but completely forgot, so they were directly in the line of fire of the French horse artillery. Luckily for them, they didn't take any hits. The Prussian landwehr unit in the middle, however, received one more hit, taking it up to 6 (perilously close to the rout number of 7).

In the combat phase, the fight between the uhlans and the chasseurs a cheval went the way of the French. The Prussians failed to cause any hits and received 3 in return. In hindsight, it was probably a poor decision to charge them in. For a start, they were in column (rather than in the more effective fighting formation of line), and the rough ground in front of the chasseurs meant that the Prussian's charge bonus was negated (so it was just as well for the French that they hadn't countered-charged). The uhlans fell back, weakened and on 5 hits. I chose not to pursue with the chasseurs.

Prussian uhlans fall back after their fight with the chasseurs a cheval

Meanwhile, during the crucial fight for the town, the Prussians showed their mettle and managed to cause 3 hits on the charging French whilst only receiving 1 hit in return. The French fell back, and the additional hit for falling back was enough to cause the unit to rout. The Prussians themselves were exhausted and didn't pursue.

Two turns of the battle remained, and another French line infantry unit had been destroyed.

TURN 7

With two turns to go, the battle was now at a critical point. The French finally won the initiative and moved first. Leroy's battalions moved further forward, but with the stream still to be crossed it was now apparent that the most they could do would be to hold off the Prussians infantry from Goode's brigade and provide some supporting fire against the Prussians in the town. It would be down to the single French battalion commanded by Dubois to try and maintain a French foothold in the town.

Leroy's battalions prepare to do what they can

The chasseurs a cheval wanted to charge the uhlans, and even though they were allowed to charge through their horse artillery in front of them, the difficult ground meant the distance was too great, so they changed into column instead.

A view from behind the French left and centre

During the Prussian movement phase, the landwehr cavalry finally managed to pass its command roll and declared a charge against the French line battalion to their front. The French hastily formed square and inflicted 1 hit on the Prussian horse as it bore down on them.

Landwehr cavalry finally organise themselves into a charge

Over at the town, Kraus led his reformed line battalion in a charge against Dubois' infantry, while Wolff's led the other battalion in line the edge of the town facing the stream, ready to fire on the French on the other side. Dubois' men were forced to fall back due to the Prussian closing fire, but the Prussians were unable to catch them during the pursuit.

View of the town from the French side as the Kraus leads in another Prussian battalion

Dubois' men are forced to fall back under Prussian charging fire

During the firing phase, the Prussians came off best on their right flank, but faired much worse on their left, and both landwehr infantry had by now sustained lots of hits.

During the combat phase, things went from bad to worse for the Prussians on this side of the battlefield. The landwehr cavalry tried desperately to tear into the French square but eventually broke itself completely. It routed backwards, and its path of retreat caught the landwehr infantry behind it, causing that unit to also rout. This in turn caused the second landwehr unit (already on 6 hits) to rout. The entire Prussian left flank had disintegrated in a horrible cascade of hits!

The Prussian left flank just before it disappears

Above – a view of the Prussian left just before I removed the figures of those three landwehr units from the table.

And below – a view of the battlefield at the end of turn 7. The Prussian hussars are out of shot, having retreated backwards to avoid the possibility of any further damage from firing. The fight for this side of the battlefield was over, but overall victory would come down to the fight for the town in the next and final turn.

The battlefield at the end of turn 7

TURN 8

It really had come down to the final turn to find out who was going to win this battle. The Prussian left had collapsed, but it had at least done enough to keep the French on this side, and keep them away from the town. The town itself was where the battle would be won, and here the Prussians were in a good position.

The Prussians won the final initiative of the game and were quick to declare a charge against Dubios' French infantry, which was just clinging on inside.

Kraus' Prussian charge forward to drive the French from the town

The already weakened French couldn't stand against the charge. They took another hit from the Prussian musketry and the subsequent fall back move was enough to rout them altogether. Dubois, at least, survived the fight, but the loss of this unit caused further morale hits on the French line unit just outside town. 

In the firing phase, the Prussians caused further damage to this French unit – enough to sweep it away completely and take the limbered French foot artillery with it.

The Prussians win the firefight across the stream

The firing elsewhere on the battlefield didn't really matter much now, except that the very last shot of the game – the final Prussian cannon ball, in fact – delivered a cruel coup de grĂ¢ce against the French. Schrode's horse artillery managed to cause a hit on the distant French column which had its brigade commander attached. I rolled to check for leader casualty and down went Fournier.

The Prussian horse artillery opens up for the last time...

...and down goes Fournier.

And with that, the battle was over.

A quick check of the victory point totals showed the Prussians on 8 (3 for holding the town plus 5 French units destroyed). The French finished on 4 (which was the three landwehr units it destroyed plus the one battalion from Kraus' brigade).

(EDIT: I somehow managed to completely ignore the actual rules for the way victory is calculated, but I'm happy to say that the outcome would have been the same anyway. See my note in the next post!)

A view of the battlefield at the game's end

Another view.

And another.

Well, what a battle! I'll do another post soon to go over my concluding thoughts, but I will say now that I had great fun with these rules and this scenario. And as far as a solo gaming experience went, it was very satisfying, even though the rules themselves are not designed for solo play as such.

I'm really keen to play another game with SotE, and especially to give the skirmish rules a try, and possibly also to introduce some variety of troop quality. But I will stick to my original plan of playing the same scenario using Lasalle 2nd edition and comparing the two games.

I hope folks enjoyed this battle report. I know it can be quite difficult to get a grasp of what's going on with only snapshots and brief descriptions to go by, but hopefully there was enough there to give you some sense of how it all unfolded and a rough insight into how the rules worked. I hope, too, that I didn't make too many rule blunders. I don't think I did, but there are at least a couple of things I can think to mention in my next post.

Until then, happy gaming!