23 January 2017

The Battle of the Estate

As promised my father visited this past weekend for some gaming and he brought some new toys along for the ride. Having finished in record time two new units of infantry, one of them grenadiers, he was anxious to get them on the table.

The Grenadiers de Champaigne expanded his 2e Brigade under the command of Jean-Jaques LaPierre Comte d'Auvergne.

The 1er Infanterie d'Auvergne completed his 1er Brigade under the command of Phillipe Grand-Nez Comte de Roquefort. Confusingly he already had the 2e Infanterie d'Auvergne.

In anticipation of Dave's arrival I setup a rather interesting scenario for us to play. In the height of the summer months Le Grand-Duc Pierre Louis of Gourmandie retires to his summer estate near the KaiserReich border to enjoy hunting and entertaining courtiers. He routinely leaves his court with the instructions to under no circumstances bother him with matters of state. It is during this time that KronPrinz Friedrich Wilhelm has chosen to perform an attack across the border and unbeknownst to him has set his army on a path directly towards the Duke's estate. Through his many spies, the Grand Duke's loyal army commander, Jean Lafitte Roquefort, Marquis de Fromage, has learned of this move and unwilling to disturb his Duke grabs every available unit and races to the Dukes estate.

The terrain surrounding the Duke's estate is dominated by a ridge running parallel to a road.

The ridge would prove to be both a blessing and a hindrance to the trespassing KaiserReich army.

On the opposite side of the ridge sits a small village.

While not as opulent as his palace in the capital, the Duke's summer estate nonetheless provides a comfortable retreat and easy access to his hunting grounds across the river.

Ignorant to the might of arms bearing down on him, the Duke entertains fellow aristocrats on the grounds of his estate.

For the defence of the estate the Marquis de Fromage has managed to assemble a sizable force including the 1er Brigade of infantry...

the 2e Brigade of Grenadiers...

the 3e Brigade of Artillerie...

and the 4e and 5e Brigades of Cavalry.

The initial deployments saw the KronPrinz hoping to quickly establish a position for his heavy guns upon the ridge,

The infantry forces of the Protestants came down two roads in march column. The astute observer will notice that we did not turn the figures to face the front of the columns under the assumption that they would quickly shake out into line. This assumption would prove so ... so wrong.

The Marquis de Fromage deployed his Grenadier and Artillerie brigades on his right flank secured on the river with the Duke's hunting ground behind them; no godless protestants would set foot on the Duke's favorite vacation spot.

The 1er Brigade was deployed on the left flank with the estate to their right ready to move headlong into whatever the KronPrinz decided to bring over the ridge. The Cavalry brigades were kept in reserve off table.

With his first moves the KronPrinz moved his light brigade to the left flank along the ridge opposite the Grenadiers.

The 1er and 2e Battalions de Roquefort deployed into line and advanced towards the ridge. The 1er and 2e Battalions d'Auvergne misinterpreted their orders and moved left off table and into reserve with the cavalry.

The movement of the KaiserReich forces was slow and methodical (not at all according to plan) and even the artillery displayed sloth like behavior in getting themselves established on the ridge.

The Marquis de Fromage was quick to exploit the lethargic nature of the Teutonics and advanced the Grenadiers to bring fire upon the enemy. In response the KronPrinz moved the Freikorps der Jagers Radeburger to the crest of the ridge. Their fire, unexpected from the Grenadiers, set them running off table in an astounding victory for the light troops. While perhaps outside the normal abilities of the Jagers, the fact that these grenadiers were freshly painted figures made their inglorious debut entirely familiar to any wargamer.

With the breathing room created by the Jagers, the Fusiliere Brigade shook out into line and advanced over the ridge. To their right the Musketiere Brigade utterly failed in a bold action, moving over the ridge in march column. These unfortunate men were caught by the Gourmandie 1er Brigade in march column trying to shake out into line. In the end they would be forced back over the ridge to lick their wounds.

The remainder of the Gourmandie Grenadiers fell back to the river and the safety of the guns.

Unfortunately for the KronPrinz, the situation of the Musketiere Brigade was compounded by accurate fire from the Catholic artillery which disordered the Fusilieres as they were cresting the ridge. This furball of disorder would take time to sort out.

Riding high on their previous success the Jagers advanced down off the ridge towards the remaining Grenadier unit and started pouring out fire.

The Marquis de Fromage seized the opportunity of the Musketieres situation and moved the Infanterie Roquefort to capitalize.

The consistent and unrelenting fire of the Gourmandy muskets forced the KaiserReich Musketieres to fall back in disorder. Even the heavy guns were having a bad day only managing to get one battery setup by this point.

However, a reversal of fortunes came quickly on this flank with the KaiserReich heavy guns finally deploying. The Gourmandie infantry had through their own success advanced right into optimal firing range of two batteries of elevated heavy guns. The pounding they took forced one battalion to retire and leave the other in a precarious position.

On the other flank the continuous fire of the Jagers and the advancement of the Fusilieres (after finally sorting themselves out) forced the Grenadiers to get their feet wet, seeking cover in the river.

Sensing an opportunity on his left flank, the KronPrinz sent forth his lancers and told them to charge the Gourmandie guns. This charge was shot to pieces before even making contact with only a few stragglers making it back to the ridge. Here, the Grenadiere zu Pferde Warsteiner cavalry could only look on in dismay as their brethren ceased to exist.

Even with this setback the prospects for the KaiserReich were promising. The Fusiliers, now led by the Grenadiere Oettinger Battalion, were advancing off the ridge and the Musketieres were once again advancing down the road.

With the reversal of fortunes, the Marquis de Fromage decided it was time to commit his reserves. The 1er and 2e Infanterie d'Auvergne re-entered the field along with the two cavalry brigades.

The Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin moved to threaten the KaiserReich advances on the right flank.

However, the 1er Battalion Roquefort had been annihilated and the 2er Battalion forced back even further leaving only the battalion guns to hold on the left.

Meanwhile, the Musketieres had finally managed to shake out into line (we should have rotated the figures originally) and the Grenadiers advanced across the field.

The remainder of the Fusiliere Brigade was quick to follow the Grenadier's lead.

With the KaiserReich Grenadiers in a threatening position the Marquis moved the remaining Roquefort Battalion to block.

On the left flank the KronPrinz was ready to try again and ordered the Pistoliere von Doppelbock to charge the withered Grenadiers, the result of which was the Grenadiers retiring from the field.

Unfortunately the order for the Grenadiere zu Pferde Warsteiner to then charge the guns was misunderstood and they merely trotted to the middle of the field.

A torrent of fire from the Grenadiers Ottinger utterly destroyed the remaining Roquefort Battalion with little casualties in return. This left the Marquis in a precarious position.

The Marquis' response was to advance the Infanterie d'Auvergne to the flank of the advancing Fusilieres.

Even though the KronPrinz had managed to force back the Gourmandie forces and firmly establish himself off the ridge, everything was about to go horribly wrong.

Having created a gap in the protestant line, the Marquis de Fromage quickly advanced his lighter cavalry, threatening to eventually wreak havoc in the KaiserReich rear.

In a final move of brilliance/desperation, the Marquis charged the Grenadier Cavalry straight into the KaiserReich Grenadiers. This fight, although costly for the Cavalry, would break the Grenadiers and tip the balance in the army morale forcing the KronPrinz to return to his own lands.

The KronPrinz came tantalizingly close to winning the field. The fortunes of war had switched sides multiple times throughout the game and only at the last moment did it become obvious that the Marquis de Fromage would win the field. Throughout all of this the Grand Duke paid little attention and continued his summer holiday.

15 January 2017

A Little Imagination

After a brief respite, and a clearing of the table, AJ and I setup a game of 18th century Imaginations. For those unfamiliar with the concept, an Imaginations game entails playing with fictional forces in an historical period, in this case the 18th century. Having got out of our system the need to play something truly fantastical earlier in the day with some Star Wars starships, this game provided for the need to play something more traditional. Accompanying the game would be fine wine, Bach, and cigars for the debrief. As I am still completing my forces for the fictional nation of Nordstrum, we would be using my Father's collection. He has this convenient habit of leaving his figures in my gaming bunker. His excellent blog can be seen here: http://spqrdave.blogspot.ca/

AJ chose to command the forces of Das KaiserReich. This German Protestant force consisted of a Musketiere Brigade, a Fusiliere Brigade, a Grenadiere Brigade, a Cavalry Brigade, and a Light Brigade. The unique facet of the KaiserReich forces is the size of their infantry battalions, at 28 figures they are considered large units with bonuses to firepower, melee, and stamina.

I would command the forces of Le Grand-Duche de Gourmandie. This French Catholic force consisted of two Infantry brigades, a Grenadier brigade, and a Cavalry brigade. The unique facet of the Gourmandie forces is the larger contingent of artillery and the single large Guard cavalry unit.

The battlefield we set up was a traditional affair featuring fields, lonely trees, village buildings, and a forested river on one flank. I like to provide a natural excuse for table edges such as forests and rivers.

The monarch of Le Grand-Duche de Gourmandie is Grand-Duc Pierre Louis. The Grand-Duc does not lower himself to such base professions as commanding an army in the field. Instead, he brings with him a small orchestra to amuse him amidst the din of battle. He also is known for bringing his favored hounds with him on campaign as can be seen here. The command of the army is left in the capable hands of Jean Lafitte Roquefort, Marquis de Fromage. The Marquis is accompanied by the Arch-Bishop Ambroise de Chabichou du Poitou who ensures the religious and moral fortitude of the men.

Here local priests can be found accosting a camp follower for her un-pious activities.

The army of Das KaiserReich is commanded by KronPrinz Friedrich Wilhelm himself who likens himself to be a professional of sorts. Here, his carriage awaits him to finish the battle while locals gawk at the display of aristocracy.

AJ arrayed the army of Das KaiserReich in a linear fashion (duh) with his heavier cavalry in reserve behind the right flank. He lamented on more than one occasion that the chosen battlefield was not suited to a sweeping cavalry flank action.

The left flank of the KaiserReich forces was anchored by the Freikorps der Jagers Radeburger and the Ulanen Radeburger under the command of Freiherr Erik Von Radeburger.

I arrayed the Gourmandie army in a similar fashion with my heavy cavalry behind my left flank opposite the KaiserReich cavalry. In the middle of the field a local farmer seems oblivious to the colorful display around him.

The Gourmandie cavalry nervously awaited the advance of the KaiserReich line.

With the commencement of the battle it was time to open the wine. No 18th century battle would be complete without an appropriate vintage.

The KaiserReich forces advanced across the field in almost good order. 2. Brigade became confused by their orders (blunder roll) and stayed firmly in their starting positions. The sight of the entire army advancing without them did nothing to clear up the situation.

The light forces on the left flank of the KaiserReich army did understand the orders, unlike the right flank, and advanced steadily upon the godless Catholics. The Gourmandie artillery opened fire on the KaiserReich as they advanced. While the intensity of the fire did not cause considerable casualties, the disorder did slow down their advance.

With the advance of their infantry slowed by the Gourmandie guns, the KaiserReich opted to conduct a heavy cavalry charge against the opposing line. This melee would ultimately see the Grenadiere zu Pferde Warsteiner rout the 1er Infanterie Roquefort.

With the KaiserReichs light forces making headway on the right flank, Jean-Jaques LaPierre, Comte d'Auvergne ordered his infantry to push right. To fill in the gap in the line the Hussards Grand Duc were ordered to cover the Auvergne infantry's flank.

The 1er Infanterie d'Auvergne successfully halted the march of the Freikorps der Jagers Radeburger before they could over run the village. The Grand Duke payed little attention to these going ons in favor of his orchestra.

With the 1er Infanterie Roquefort routed, the KaiserReichs Grenadiers advanced in support. However, Gourmandie's Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin sallied forth and chased them back to their lines. A temporary success, this maneuver would be the end of the Grenadier Cavalry.

Seeing his Grenadiers falling back in the face of the heavy Gourmandie cavalry, AJ considered his options.

He opted for the bold move, crying "fortune favors the bold", and charged the Pistoliere von Doppelbock into the Grenadier Cavalry. Thankfully not performing their famed caracole, the KaiserReich cavalry slammed into the Grenadiers who could not counter charge due to being disordered.

Embracing his new found courage, AJ charged the Ulanen Radeburger into the Hussards Grand Duc on the other flank. The hussars were able to counter charge.

With decent die rolling on my side and less than decent die rolling on AJ's side, the Hussars repelled the Lancers.

The Pistolieres did not favor well either, retiring back behind their main lines. This did leave the Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin nearly shaken and in a precarious position. With KaiserReich artillery and two infantry battalions firing into them as they impotently tried to order themselves, the Grenadiers succumbed and retired from the field.

The firefight on the right flank was no going my way either and assessing the situation I adopted to honorably withdraw from the field of battle. AJ graciously granted me the dignity of withdrawing in good order.

The game complete, AJ and I braved the Canadian January temperatures with our wine and enjoyed cigars during the debrief. An imaginations game is always a pleasant experience and I happily play whenever I can. AJ and I both noted that their is something quite viscerally appealing about gaming in the 18th century. We both enjoy games ranging from WWII tanks fights to starships battling amidst the stars, but pushing colorfully painted infantry battalions and cavalry regiments about the field with the roar of cannons ringing in our imaginations seems both dignified and "right". Thank you to AJ for a wonderful day of gaming and I look forward to more imaginations gaming next weekend when my father arrives.

The rules we used were Black Powder from Warlord Games.