Saturday, 22 March 2014

Prussians attack the French in a "Frontal Assault"

With the approaching 200th anniversary of the end of the 1814 campaign we had some battles to commemorate the end.

In this game Steve took the field with a Prussian Infantry division attacking my French Infantry Division.

The scenario was an adaption of the "attack on a prepared position" scenario in the Napoleon at War book.

I call it "Frontal Assault". The differences are that the attacker can win the game if they can hold one objective until the start of their next turn (similar to FoW). Also, the defenders don't get to roll for reserves until turn 3. All this was designed to give the attacker a better chance of winning in this very difficult scenario.

There was little terrain (4 pieces) but I did get to place a two building village. The other terrain was two hills and a wood. The other terrain pieces were there just for aesthetic purposes.

Annoyingly I failed the roll (despite a re roll) to select which side of the table to defend so I didn't get to deploy in the village. 

I had a large 5 battalion infantry brigade and so I placed that to cover the very vulnerable objective (which Steve placed) on the French left flank, just outside the village. I detached a French Lancer Regiment to sit back and support the infantry.

I placed my artillery in the center. This was a grand battery so I kept it central as I didn't know Steve's deployment at the time. I used it also to hold the objective I had placed on the hill (I couldn't quite place it behind the hill). I also deployed a smaller 3 battalion infantry brigade to cover the objective and support the artillery.

On the right I deployed my remaining light cavalry, some Chasseur de Cheval and another unit of Lancers.

Steve deployed his entire infantry on the edge of the village with his heavy artillery in support. He had 2 infantry brigades of 3 battalions, a Landwehr Brigade of 3 battalions, a jäger battalion, 1 heavy artillery battery and a lone hussar regiment( which he positioned over on the other flank behind the wood).

It was clear what Steve's intent was. The French prepared for the oncoming assault. I had 1 Line battalion on the left flank sat right on the objective. The remaining Infantry were all conscripts!

Turn 1
As expected Steve launched the Prussian infantry through the village.

The Prussian Heavy artillery opened fire

And inflicted heavy casualties on its target.

The Prussian Hussars advanced through the wood and charged the French Lancers but the Lancers successfully evaded

The French had to react to the Prussians.

I advanced the Infantry a little

And detached a battalion from the center to help support the threatened left flank.

The French artillery inflicted losses on the advancing Prussians.

 On the right flank the Light Cavalry re ordered themselves.

On the extreme left the Conscripts attempted to assault the Prussian unit in front but the assault failed to go in.

Turn 2

The Prussians didn't hang around and got stuck in.

The assault on the far left forced the French unit to fall back.

The Landwehr wanted to show what they could do and actually destroyed the battalion they assaulted!

The next Prussian assault suffered heavily from both regular musketry and defensive fire and the unit was destroyed before making contact.

The French Line battalion breathed a sigh of relief!!

The first wave of assaults had been mixed for the Prussians but there were plenty more units to come.

On the right the Prussian Hussars charged the Lancers

But the Chasseurs successfully countercharged 

And won :-)

The Hussars had to fall back 

And the Chasseurs followed up to keep the pressure on.

On the left the French had to reorganise.

And in the center the inactive medium artillery battery was limbered to redeploy against the left flank.

On the right flank the Lancers attempted take advantage of the failure of the Hussars but the Hussars annoyingly evaded the charge.

Turn 3
The second wave of the Prussian assault came in and the poor French Line Battalion took the brunt.

The first assault was sent reeling back from defensive fire.

The second charge came in

And again was repulsed by defensive fire.

The third charge arrived and....... Was annihilated by defensive fire.

The fourth assault  

was also thwarted!!!  The heroic French could not believe their luck !! Has there ever been such an act of valour on the wargames table? 

On the right the Hussars opted to charge the Lancers again

But they were out of luck and after a sharp struggle the Lancers just held on and the Hussars were destroyed.

The Prussian morale was dented but not for long as a poor turn was salvaged by the arrival of their  reserves, a horse battery (wearing Austrian uniforms!) 

And a large Cavalry brigade of Dragoons, Hussars and Uhlans!! 

The cavalry brigade stormed across the centre of the field to get into the action on the French left.

The French reacted by bringing up more infantry. With the objective under such pressure I opted to move the infantry up rather than put them in to square and used the supporting cavalry to protect them from the Prussian Cavalry. 

Then ...... Disaster!!! The French Line Battalion, after seeing off four charges then shot at the Prussian unit to its front, missed all the shots and lost a base in the return fire. This forced them to fall back!!! Off the objective :-(. They had obviously used up their ammo in shooting out all those assaults!!

The Heavy artillery were able to bring the Prussian Cavalry in to their sights and inflicted a number of casualties.

The French light cavalry swung around to give the Prussian Cavalry something to think about behind them.

But sadly there was no sign of any French reserves.

Turn 4
With the retiring of the French heroes the Prussians seized the opportunity and charged their rear! Sadly, the French heroes were destroyed!

The Prussian Jägers joined the action and charged 

But failed their élan test

The newly arrived Hussars charged the Lancers who failed to evade!

They were wiped out by the subsequent melee allowing the Hussars to break through on to the poor infantry behind. A massacre ensued :-(

The French left flank was now extremely vulnerable

And the Prussian cavalry reorganised themselves.

With things looking bleak the French tried to organise their defence on the left and were given heart by the arrival of their reserves, a Dragoon brigade!

The situation on the left was stabilised.

Turn 5
Time was ticking on Steve had to leave soon so we made this the last turn.

The Prussian Cavalry moved in to threaten the French Dragoons.

And the Prussian Infantry move in for a final assault.

The Prussian Infantry charged in and routed the their target. 

The Prussian Cavalry charged but failed against the French Dragoons who held firm against two charges destroying the Hussars.

With the Prussians now holding the objective it was left to the Dragoons to save the day. They charged the Prussian infantry to their front who, incredibly, survived the assault but where at least forced to fall back. 

They took sanctuary in the village outskirts so avoiding the cavalry pursuit and their inevitable destruction. 

And so the game ended with the objective contested but not won. Steve was tempted to play out turn 6 but knew the wrath of has wife (who was waiting to be picked up) was a greater fear than facing the French.

This was technically a French win but, another turn could easily have swung it for the Prussians.

It was a very enjoyable game with some real heroic moments.

We were play testing this scenario and a few issues came up. The main issue was that if the attacker has to hold the objective at the start of his turn he has to have captured the objective on turn 5 so he can start turn 6 holding the objective. As this is a 6 turn game the attacker has a turn less to win the game. 

We could play more turns but the realities of life mean we rarely get that amount of time.
The rule could be changed so that if the attacker is holding the objective at the end of the defenders turn then that would count as an attacker win. That way the attacker can take the objective in turn 6 and still win.

I'm still not sure which way to go with this. This is not the only way to win the game. Capturing both objectives in the normal way (holding both at the start of the defenders turn) would still win the game, as would breaking the enemy army (attacker having more victory points than defender having active forces on table). So I'm tempted to leave it as it is giving the attacker just an alternative method for victory. I shall continue to ponder :-)