Sunday, 13 May 2018

Black Powder - Teugn Hausen 1809


As part of our now somewhat epic 3 year project, half a dozen seasoned Wagram Project wargamers met up at the Hall of Heroes to play another practice game. However this time the battlefield bore no resemblance to the Marchfeld near the Danube. In fact the terrain bore little resemblance to any traditional Napoleonic wargame - woods everywhere - what was going on?

The Austrian Team plots strategy - L-R: Alejandro, whose commentary you will read below, Mark, and Vic

As you can see from the map in the Osprey Campaign book 'Eckmuhl' the terrain over which the protagonist fought this battle was covered with woods. However they were light enough that they did not prove impenetrable to formed troops. Indeed the combat ensued in the usual way, in column and line, with actually quite a fluid and dynamic battle ensuing. For this reason I have always been interested in this battle, which lends itself to the table-top as relatively few troops were involved, yet it could easily have been a pretty decisive victory for the Austrians and started off the 1809 campaign on quite a different footing. Its one drawback is the small numbers of cavalry involved, which we all know is the only way to add tone to what would otherwise be and unseemly brawl!


The premise of Teugn-Hausen is fascinating. We tend to view the 1809 campaign through the prism of Aspern-Essling and Wagram - with the Austrians being defensive and their best possible outcome being a tenacious defensive draw or at best a pyrrhic victory. But in the early part of the war, which, lets face it, they started with their invasion of Bavaria, they were on the offensive. And at Teugn-Hausen, with a little more luck, and a little less French mobility, they might well have caught and isolated Davout's corps, left isolated as it was at the start of the campaign. So for this scenario, the crossroads above is the objective. If the French can hold it and keep the road open, Davout's Corps can march down it and reach the rest of the army. If the Austrians seize it, III Corps goes in the bag!



The French team consisted of Bryan, left, and Terry, right, commanding Sainte-Hilaire and Friant's divisions respectively...


each with a brigade screen of 2 bns of Léger out front. These 2 bold gentlemen lost no time in pushing forward as far and as fast as they could...


But enough of the French perspective - from this point on this battle will be recounted from the perspective of one of the Austrian commanders. The Austrian team was led by Mark, as Archduke Charles and so the overall commander. Below was my command - the Avant Garde Brigade of skirmishers, horse artillery and the only cavalry on table, the Archduke Ferdinand Hussars.


Vic commanded Biebers large brigade, nearest the camera below. (Kayser's Brigade, run by Mark, started the game halfway up the table). Alejandro, the author of this account, ran the brigade adjacent to the road...


From a Brigadier’s point of view I was given the command of Lichtenstein’s brigade which consisted of 5 battalions (800 men each) of line infantry plus one battery of 6pdrs, then later I was given a two extra Position batteries of 12pdrs each detached from the Army Reserve.




Orders: My orders were very simple, - move as quickly as possible to the forest to the front. From there, try to form a battle formation and advance toward the crossing road and cut the French advance. 

I tried to execute my orders as quickly as possible, we could see a whole friendly Division in front of us, we started to follow it. Finally we got to the edge of the forest without any inconvenience and in a very short space of time considering Austrian command ratings.


As soon as we started to go into the forest, our advance slowed down considerably, the Division in front of us was hardly moving and we got stuck behind it. I was given free choice by the General to go to the right or left flank, I decided to move to the left flank.
This decision was taken after we realised that there were a whole Avant-Garde brigade of friendly skirmishers in front of us. They would slow down the enemy and would allow us to deploy in a relative calm.
We found a way to move rather quickly to the left flank, considering how difficult was to move through the forest.
We formed a defensive formation, and deployed all our batteries in front of the infantry to allow us to deliver as much fire power as possible.
The intention was to soften the enemy by disordering and destroying their morale, and then, with my fresh troops charge the enemy. This objective was accomplished by my batteries and the skirmish brigade...
but just when we got ready to attack, we received reports that our centre was being out flanked and it was crumbling...
so we needed to withdraw. The French were left in command of the cross roads and so won the game.
Suggestions: I think we need to plan for the length of time of the game and the size of the table, for this game we needed an extra hour. Also, I think the scenario would benefit from the use of bounce through rules in Albion Triumphant.
(Response by Sparker - yes absolutely we should have played a couple more moves, or started the game with the Austrians further up the table - I just got wowed by the size of the table the Hall of Heroes laid on for us and wanted to use it all! Re bounce through, agreed that its realistic, but I think in a large game it take too long to administer.)



In conclusion I really enjoyed the game. I think the special rules and values for the Austrians give reasonable command of the troops - the fact that they are “superbly drilled” helps us not to get frustrated with game playability. Also, the forest rules were good, you felt that you were in difficult terrain, but the troops could still move. 

One final comment from Sparker - I just had to add this photo of one of St Hilaire's infantry battalions charging the Austrian Hussars - not something you see every day. These poor Hussars had a torrid battle, bearing the brunt of slowing down and harassing an entire division as the only formed troops in the Avant Garde Brigade, and by the late stages of the battle were shaken and seemed to spend most of their time disordered, so Bryan thought it was worth a punt. I am proud to say that despite their casualties and disorder, the Hussars fended off the infantry just fine!

Friday, 20 April 2018

What a Tanker! - Down Under...



This Thursday at the uni we gave the Two Fat Lardies' What a Tanker! rules a run out. Kaptain Kobold has given an excellent account of the action in the 2 games we played here:
The Stronghold Rebuilt - What a Tanker! so I won't repeat the details of the action again...I'll just share some more eye-candy with some random thoughts...



The rules come in the inimitable TFL style, and I do like the use of the Wehrmacht Panzer Pink Waffenfarbe to outline the title! Note the difference in scales with the Panzer IIIs - the one nearest the camera must be 1:48 scale compared to the 1:56 Rubicon ones of mine. In the game we played it as a PzIV.


WAT! seems a great opportunity to dust off my burgeoning collection of 1/56th scale model AFVs - people can get a bit sniffy when you turn up with wall to wall T34s for a game of Bolt Action!



I was running C/S 26, a Rubicon model T-34s or Tritsatchivorka. Despite the Fast Tank attribute it took me a while to get into the fray! But I really like the decision making processes you have to go through with your handful of command dice, and its interesting how different values rise or fall in worth depending on the phase of battle you are in!


With our first game, set in 1941 on the Eastern Front, we limited ourselves to model 1940 Tridsadviorkas and Panzer IIIs and short barrelled Pz IVs, which made for a relatively mobile game as we wanted to get in close to inflict serious damage...



Ok, maybe too close! Even with 8 players all WAT virgins we got through this big game in about an hour and half; the game mechanisms are simple and intuitive, especially for our diehard TwoFatLardy fans!



I should say at this stage that WAT! has no stats for armoured cars at present, but I believe that is coming down the line, and given the comprehensive data lists provided, it shouldn't be too hard to extrapolate your own stats if your tastes run to rubber...Similarly with AT guns, and, dare I say it, infantry tank hunters...



Having really enjoyed the first game so much, we then sought our next hit, this time a late war game, featuring 4 x T34-85s vs a Tiger 1 and 2 Panthers.



We tried to space the cover out a bit more, but not really enough: the 2 Panthers got brewed in the opening few moves by 85mm shots right across the table. This elicited some grumbling about realism from the grognards amongst us...


But we certainly all agreed that we were having great fun!


Well, not all the time - our youngest player, Kaleb, who, let the record show, was the first of us to earn a Kill Ring, was left on his own, albeit sitting in a Tiger, as the rest of us circled for the kill...



So after 2 large and action packed games, I have to say I am hooked - great fun, really open to large team games, and lots of tanks - whats not to like? The early demise of the 2 Panthers did cause some concern about authenticity, but I think they were just flukes from the dice Gods. Throughout the game the Tiger quite historically bounced kills until the very end, and we had far too little terrain that allowed table-wide shots.


An important plus for me is that WAT! really lends itself to solo play, but that's something I intend to explore in a future post, this time set somewhere in Normandy...TTFN!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Team Yankee - No Retreat for the Gordons!


This Thursday at the uni we were glad to be able to catch up with our mate Daniel, who was on an Easter long weekend leave pass from his officer training at HMAS Creswell. Daniel had asked if we could lay on a Team Yankee game? Does a bear poop in the woods?
 

I laid out some terrain and Daniel rolled for the scenario:  No. - 5 'No Retreat'. I had organised with Daniel and his opponent Colin - ex RAAF btw - that it would be 60 points, no Air, no AA.


Turns out that Daniel could get a lot of East German assets within that 60 points - 2 companies of T-55AM2s, a company of T-72s, a medium sized company of infantry mounted in BTR70s...



and lots of artillery:



both Carnation 122mm SPG and Hail MRLs!


Colin opted instead for a British Mechanised Infantry Company: tenacious and aggressive Highland infantry platoons, richly endowed with support weapons: 81mm mortars and sustained fire MG's, which, uniquely in the TYverse, can lay down an artillery barrage - Colin's favourite trick!


However they also had some heavier firepower in the form of Abbot 105mm SPGs, and, of course, some direct firepower in the form of a troop of 3 Chieftain MBTs!



Colin deployed first, able to deploy 3 platoons, garrisoning the central village and its objective with infantry...



Placing another platoon out near the second objective over on his deep right flank. With immediate deep reserves, he couldn't put his Chieftains on table so his third platoon consisted of his Light Guns


Daniel as the attacker had the first move and split his armour into 3 distinct prongs, driving fast and hard with each. These T-55s and Spandrels (above) went for the deep objective on his left flank, carefully avoiding the minefield...


His other T-55 company on his right flank drove straight for the objective in the village...
 

While his T-72s held the middle course. His infantry company remained mounted and headed for the cover of the woods nearest the village.



For the next couple of moves, as Colin deployed a steady stream of immediate reinforcements, Colin continued with his bold advance, deploying his infantry...


and their 2 Spandrel platoons, in the cover of the wood commanding the southern approaches to the village.


So that he was well on the approach to both objectives.



Whilst the village was strongly garrisoned with infantry teams,


and bristling with Milan ATGWs, a succession of well executed HAIL rocket strikes kept the infantry pinned down, allowing the T-55s to get within the Milan missile's minimum range... 


However the Milan teams over on the northern objective were not pinned, and soon made their presence felt!



By this time, Colin's Chieftain platoon had Blitzed into position...



and cut loose on the nearest T-55 company around the village...



Not a pretty sight! However, with the East German artillery taking an increasing toll on the village's garrison, Daniel decided it was time for some direct action with his motor-schutzen kompanie!



And so in they went! With the garrison's few shell shocked survivors being flogged by HMG fire from the BTR's...



the eastern half of the village was successfully broken into by the Ossi infanteers!


Further north, Daniel's red tide was also advancing closer to the other objective...



It had reached the point where Colin had to finish his move contesting both objectives or hand Daniel the game!



The survivors of the village's garrison rallied and prepared to counter attack...


bringing forward the support of their APC's pintle mounted MGs and whittling away at the BTR's with their 'Charlie G' 84mm AT projectors...



And whilst there were few enough of them surviving to re-claim the village, they had driven the East Germans away - the village objective was still in play!


But what of the East German northern and centre prongs - would Daniel seize the deep objective with his panzers?


By this time all of Colin's forces were in play, including a troop of Scorpions. Diminutive they may be, but their 76mm guns could still penetrate the side armour of Daniel's T-72s!


And so it proved! The destruction of the second East German tank platoon meant that the formation had broken, and the hard fought defence had held!