Friday 20 July 2012

Retreat from Moscow, Game 1

Played the first game in a test of the campaign system for the Napoleonic rules I am currently working on, tentatively titled "Muskets and Shakos". As you may guess from the name it is based on the same system as our "Muskets and Mohawks", and "Rifles and Rebels". This time however the scale has been bumped up so that each unit is a battalion, squadron, or battery.

As with every Two Hour Wargame, this one includes a campaign system and rules for solitaire, or co-op play as well as the traditional two opposing sides of players sort of game. In this case you are tasked with commanding a brigade (+) on the Grande Armee during the retreat from Moscow in 1812.

Conveniently for the game's scale (1"=20 yards), your brigade has been detached on a foragin mission and has been cut off from the main line of retreat. Your mission is to get your command back to the relative safety of the main body. I've deliberately set this up to allow players to field forces of any of Napoleon's allies in the invasion, and alternately as the British army on Sir John Moore's retreat to Corunna. However for this test campaign I am playing as the French and the game system will handle the valiant Russians.

My brigade consists of two infantry regiments, each of three battalions. All told these units come to three Rep 5, two Rep 4, and one Rep 3. I also have two squadrons of light cavalry, Reps 5 and 3, and a battery of 4 guns. In the photo above you can see my command deployed on the right. From left to right we have the first regiment, all in column of divisions (hereafter simply "column"), the battery, and the second infantry regiment. The second regiment has its left unit in column, center unit in line, and right unit in square, the reason for which will soon become apparent. My two cavalry squadrons are being held in reserve behind the second regiment of foot.

The Russians fielded two infantry regiments, each of two battalions, two batteries of 6 and four guns (or one battery of 10 guns split in two if you like), and  a regiment of five sotnias of Cossacks.

 Each Russian infantry regiment had one battalion in line supported its second battalion in column. The Russian guns were deployed between the two infantry regiments, and the Cossacks on their left. The terrain being level, it was possible the Cossacks were masking more units deployed behind them, and so a Possible Enemy Force marker was placed behind the regiment.

Given the Russian set up, I opted to press forward one infantry regiment against the enemy right, demonstrate against his center with my second infantry regiment, and hope that my two squadrons of cavalry could keep the Cossacks occupied long enough for my infantry to carry the day.

Here is how it all went:
Turn 1: as my troops moved to execute the plan, Russian artillery fire immediately started causing confusion in my ranks.
Turn 2: My forces continue to advance. On my left the Russian battalion turns to face, while on my right the Cossacks advance, unmasking a second Cossack regiment behind the first, Fortunately the second regiment wasn't masking even more troops. My infantry in the center was being pretty badly handled by the Russian guns.

Turn 3: On my left, the outer most battalion continued moving on the Russian flank. The second battalion formed line in preparation for engaging the enemy. The third battalion remained in column as a reserve. On my right, both regiments of Cossacks fell back before the mighty charge of my squadron of light horse : )

Turn 4: The withdrawal of the Cossacks, however temporary, gave me the chance to launch an assault with my center regiment, while the first regiment continued its flanking movement. On the far left, the Russains reacted to my wide flanking move by sending their right flank reserve battalion towards my flanking column.  We charged with elan, but the charge faltered and devolved into a firefight between the two columns.

Continuing from left to right, the Russian battalion in line refused a flank to confront my reserve battalion, while the battalion I  had deployed in line advanced. The Russians got off the first shot but very much got the wrong end of the exchange.

Next the left most battalion of second regiment advancing in column stalled before the six gun Russian battery and was ripped apart by canister.  The center regiment of the second battalion fared better, although they to failed to close with the determined gunners of the four gun battery.

Turn 5 and Turn 6: Turn five came and went without any movement but with both sides blazing away at one another in fire fights that now stretched all along the infantry and gun lines.

Turn six started with a renewed attack by the Cossacks on my cavalry. The two unit of horse danced about but failed to close. 

On my extreme right the two battalions in column remained locked in a fairly desultory fire fight, while my battalion in line finally forced the Russians opposite to retire. 
My battalion in front of the six gun battery could make no headway and their losses steadily mounted. The fight against the four gun battery went better with two gun crews down and the other two abandoning their pieces.

On the retreat of the gunners the final Russian reserve battalion charged my battalion in line but failed to close. The Russian battalion they were supporting wheeled and gave us a volley as well but my brave enfants held!

With all of the Russian reserves committed I could feel the battle turning my way.

Turn 7: Decision!  The Russians got this turn off to a lively start by routing the battalion that had stalled in front of the six gun battery. It was to be their last success.
On my right one cavalry squadron routed the lead regiment of Cossacks while the second squadron made a charge on the Russain battalion that was pouring a flanking fire into my lead regiment of 2nd battalion. The Russains formed square and the horsemen balked, but my goal of limiting the fire my infantry faced had been attained.
The infantry, no free from the threat to their flank, charged the Russia column with which they had been exchanging shots. The Russians retired before them.
The right most battalion of first regiment charged the six gun battery from the flank, routing them. The third battalion, thus far held in reserve, charged the Russain infantry that had retired the previous turn and routed them.
Finally the first battalion of the first regiment charged the left most Russian column and forced it to retire.
End Game: At this point the Russian had lost one infantry battalion, two gun batteries, and a regiment of Cossacks. Their commander lost his nerve and  broke off the engagement.

My losses were as follows:
1/1 no loss
2/1 5 out of 10
3/1 no loss

1/2 1 out of 10
2/2 2 out of 8
3/2 Fled (8 figures at start)

The horse and guns suffered no loss.

Have yet to decide on the method of after battle recovery so cannot say how many will return for the next game yet.

All in all a fun game that contrasted nicely with the Chasseur vs. Cossak game last week. This time the Cossacks could not find a flank and although they suffered no loss they soon tired of the game and departed the field.

The AI can stand a tweak or two as well but other than that all seems to be working as expected.

Not sure how soon game two of the campaign will come about but you may be sure it will be posted here when it does.

Hope you enjoyed the report and, as always, thanks for stopping by!


  1. It looks like you're using single based figures with movement trays? Is that going to be the recommended method for basing?

    Looking forward to what you come up with for this!


    1. Hello Brian,

      You are very welcome

      Basing I use is single figures on a 25x25 or 25x50mm base. With 1"=20 yards, and an infantry unit having Repx2 number of figures/bases. The actual frontage an infantry unit can have is based on historical battalion schemes and the rest of the figures just line up in a second rank.

      As long as bases are 1"x1" or so figure scale does not matter and of course one could rework the ground scale or use rosters/markers for casualties.

      As an example if you currently have figures on 60mm wide bases, either count each base as three figures or multiply all game ranges by three.

      Hope that helps.