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 1792-1815 18mm minis with"Balls and fire: Napoleon"

1809 Armies fighting on the purposely designed mat for Borodino! 

WAGRAM (or nearly so, fiddled with OB and starting time for more options). table space 4.5 m x 2.9m

3500 figurines; 2 days mostly because the bases were not yet with magnets and only two players! lesson taken. napoleon did not manage to break them, just push them off pretty much like in 1809. the austrian player did not counter attack and had a different more spread use of his fortification. To be redone.

Gzatsk 1813 

So I am playing solo this huge battle. First placed the Russians after deciding where the French were to be and the intend of Napoleon at the beginning. He will probe and get the Russian flank cavalry out of the way using his superiority in this arm. Then finding the best avenue, probably right center where there is a hinge in the line, try to smash them. As usual in the 1812-13 Russian campaign, if the Russians go away in relatively good order it would not be a strategic victory of note. On the other hand as this campaign already lasted more than a year (in that what if context) the Russian politics might be slightly different with the displaced people and even landlords wary of famines and losing more of their abandoned source of income and food.   How I came to this...


First turn 

The French start moving forward. Their light cavalry on their left generates the first enthusiastic shooting of the day from the 3pr pop guns of the Don Cossack battery. No hit. The French move closer three divisions have orders to engage with is not overly aggressive. Sort of recon in force. Enough face to face game the Russian would've used dummies and maybe a cossack screen. 

Second turn 

The French move closer three divisions have orders to engage with is not overly aggressive. Sort of recon in force. Enough face to face game the Russian would've used dummies and maybe a Cossack screen. I Skipped this to speed up, keeping in mind the French would cautiously move in the covers to avoid possible Jägers that would make a mess of the speedier march came that I nearly did not use grande bandes Jägers in front as they did in Borodino, not having enough troops to spare in the main line. You never know how they will fare and if not crushed to leave a gap of their space in the line. Except for the woods, there is little cover, like in Borodino, gullies, and streams that would forbid fr cavalry to make mincemeat of them.

The French light cavalry of Chastel division asked for the dragoons to move in support for an attack to chase the Cossack angled trap. They need more units to cover the flank. The Don battery scored a hit with a joyful hurrah, hit that was not saved by the fr hussars being in line, they even get shaken by this unexpected result. 

The first line of Cossack moved back as the fr getting the choice of the move had the ru move first, to sort of take-off them a reaction to what happens, not much use in that case. Even bad here as I could have moved the gun and shot the Cossacks, but keep in mind they do not know what lies in woods, so best do it that way for this part of the field. 

See the little counter of a dead horse to show the shaken status of Chastel first line.  Little dice show that all units there, engaged as within close combat move distance or shat at, got a fatigue (stress) point. As N want to move ahead engage ("hold as much of them by the basques") and turn their left with cavalry to discover the position details before committing to assault(s)


Order phase

Kreutz Russian third cavalry corps commander on their left tries and at the third attempt, (would have taken him too long to probably send another) to order provisional div Koulnev to engage the Fr cav. from the left of wood 22, to force them facing south. Grouchy orders one brigade of dragoon to attack alongside the lights. Had to roll twice as insubordinate order, his corps orders engage.  Davout will stop Dessaix from engaging. Just hold. Too hot in front. No urge. Again has to roll twice. Misses! 

Who moves first, after giving new orders for both sides. fr win again. Chose second to give a shot to the Cossacks. Test on it even if they save. 

Thiry dragoon brigade understands its order and goes after the left Cossack brigade. These can try to evade with 4D6 (but with a max of 18" their normal move, I only allow Cossacks a similar light cavalry in line or in recon mode to do that ).from 7" distance. Fr dragoon will at most move 16" , so mini 4+7 = 11, if they roll under 12 they are screwed. But enticing the dragoons in a move to be flanked by the other Cossacks is worth. Of course, Thiry can try to stop if he cannot reach. In reality, he would see he cannot catch or can. Unlucky Cossack rolls 11!  

Chastel hussars are shaken so cannot charge, the second line the Bavarian brigade moves through and charges. While the hussars will recover. Marked with a rally with the risk in case it all gets apeshit and they have to fight they will do it with another -1! (not prepared) .The Cossack tries to evade, to entice the Bavarians onto the waiting uhlans. They also fail to move enough, but still enough and lucky as the uhlan reaction was a lucky 6+ 2 for being lights, enough to intercept the Bavarians. Though they are in column vs line, not so good. But better than being smashed in the back for the Cossack. Motivated Chuguiev uhlan who were just Cossacks a few months ago!  

Outflanked on one side ( the other side is woods)-1 but lancers charging +1 compared to ordinary lights. Equal! Melee, not good for lancers. 90% chances as 9sp for Chuguiev and 80% for Domanget. both score one melee hit. Re roll this kind of thing normally lasts less than10 minutes! Now in disorder. -1 for outflanked Chuguiev, and whooping+6 to the dice for the Bavarians. Uhlans rout. Bavarian decide to pursue to hit the recuperating Cossacks. Both in disorder. The Cossack lava outflanks them on one side, but as they are not charging they don't roll their unknown ability, will fight as D. Bavarians have continuing charge with elan ( for routing the uhlans.) the Cossacks are static. Advantage +2 to the Bavarians. Bavarian day: Bier in Regensburg.+6! 

The Bavarians carry on the length of their started pursuit. And with blown horses so do Illowaski Cossacks and Chugiuev for running away.


Dragoons do a bad die but they have so many plusses vs the rear of the Cossacks that they still manage to rout would need really extreme dice not to. Thiry succeeds in reigning in the pursuit and not to have blown horse. Masterly discipline. Turns 45° to be nicely in the rear of the last visible cossacks. I will do all the right side before moving left. So Far quite independent. Now ru move. Kulnev no doubt confused about the mess around receives his order from GmKreutz but does nothing, not implementing it (rolled 5). As there is a strong change of situation I Could have him try initiative orders. But first1/3 of his command and 1/2 of Platov's are routing we have some manouever elements demotivation tests first. Kulnev's passes, only one unit running and the rest being B. But Platov's fails both brigades retire shaken with one sp each lost ( stragglers).

Looks like Grouchy order to Chastel generally pointing at the Cossacks "enlevez moi ça que diantre" was done nicely. Kulnev now succeeds a whopping 19 on his initiative test and gives himself attack orders, deploys his two hussar rgts and battery to screw those pesky Bavarians next turn and be flanking any French rash forward move. Platov tries to rally two brigades, one he goes with using at the end of the turn his charisma +1 and reroll!   

The last Cossack brigade in the woods, out of sight and control on a different order stays unaware of the mess. The Cossack gunners who escaped the dragoons by taking refuge in the woods now instead of getting their guns back mount their horses and run away. 

On the center Dessaix did not get a new order. So he must engage, which mean forward to a distance of minimum shooting his guns which would lose them fast with all that is facing him, or bolder move the sk line to hinder/ harass. The Ru guns.  This would be more in spirit. 

Friant and Dessaix preparing to go, both rgts of legère spreading out in complete skirmish formation ahead of the rest. The hills are actually heights on that side of the river, roughly of the same height as the other bank where the Russians are, some crests could be found , nothing fully level. It is anyway mostly out of range and the Russian guns won't waste ammo on sk. Especially at that distance.

Delzons from Eugene corps moving through the woods gets to the crest facing the left hand fortication. Gudin fails initiative to transform his engage to attack to flush out the jagers from behind their breastworks and abatis.  

Russian phase 

Kapesvich from 6th corps could possibly try initiative to send his jager brigade forward to counter what is coming, but they are just average , not worth the trouble. Seems I put the wrong corps there. The supporting dragoons move a bit to the rear of the guns to help and will deter part of the fr sk mass to come close. So far very few fr guns in sight so no pb.

GT 4 

Davout sents an attack order to Gudin. Will reach him next turn. Kreurz to engage to the huge Skalon dragoon brigade. He thinks those fr cav could be nicely bottled up between the woods. Barclays moves to his left to see what is going on. Then sends an order to Platov to re-engage from the other side of 22 hill. Probably faint chances but on the long run maybe. It will reach him next turn.

Napo +2 on die 10 helps a lot. Ok, put Kutusov only able as very inactive like at Borodino. Maybe too much. On the other end one can use Barclay and Bagration rolling own initiative to get orders if not the who chooses to move first thing. Admitting a bit artificial, but after all they were mostly reacting really. Not badly.   Russians have the choice so move first to help Kulnev. Dice were a tie, in 1812, it will give choice to the one who did not have it before. 

Picture with fog of war. Forget the troops underneath, that is what the french would see, with a few added dummies. Very different story when done. Not as realistic as a computer game but still instill the right stuff. I won't as no need and ugly for the purpose of this show. Actually if one wants nice tables still, put the figs, not necessarily the right ones, with some inconspicuous marker that says unknown. In demos, as the lazy one, often puts the right troops, but of course, the other side cannot completely bet on it. This thing left is it opolchenie or a grenadier division? You see. Then recon cavalry orders are welcome.   

That is where the Cossack mass is invaluable, screens your dispositions and sees often the other side, or forces him to commit and tire cavalry. Kulnev charges the Bavarians who roll nice to react, so they are not taken in flank but still won’t have the charge bonus. And they get off not too badly repulsed, shaken with one step loss. Russian hussars nicely disciplined keep their horses fresh. Not the Bavarians.

Infantry moves forward. Skirmish bandes deploy out of the forest, negotiate a crossing of the river. Three divisions do.  Russian 12 lv shoot, even manage to shoot the few fr batteries deploying in time before they are fully deployed but all miss at extreme range.  

Grouchy consolidates. Bavarians fall back to be protected by the others, to recover. The dragoons should attack but having enemies too many in two angles, seen, that would put them into a vice, are allowed to wait for the redeployment. Part of the Cossacks start to rally, so does Chuguiev, from rout to shaken. Not Davidov’s brigade though.                                                                   Back to top


Nansouty gives order to Bruyères' light division to engage via the right of hill. 22 to unlock the mess., St Sulpice cuirassiers to go and support the front. Attack order reaches Gudin de la Sablonniere who sends forward the legère in skirmishers supported bu the disordered columns to flush out the Jägers in the center. They fall short of it stopped half a move by the abattis, Jägers shoot them, lots of noise for little effects. Fr move first

Bruyeres gets his orders and dashes forward with a double move to seize the moment, at the expense of a fp for each brigade. Chastel and the supporting dragoons charge the ru hussars. Grouchy ' s dragoon out of control on the left, tests on attack orders, and gets the "conform (previously named sheep action!) to neighbour's actions, of the same type that can be seen, and in priority of its own outfit. A very human reaction. So ignores rightly Denisov Cossacks on the left which cannot do anything aggressive being shaken, goes for the ones in front, same global direction as the rest of its division. Vlassov Cossack brigade with Platov at their head who just rallied them, bravely counter charges to cover the dragoons behind them crossing the bridge.   

Despite Platov charismatic reroll, having a pre-roll die difference of -4 hard to overcome, they duly get chased out losing one step. The dragoons fail to reign in and pursue with enthusiasm (they get the élan marker for a further fight) but in disorder and with blown horses. Like the other routed these Cossacks having charged and fled get automated blown horses, no need to roll against discipline. The Russian artillery shoots the mass of lights coming for them. To hits saved by the dispersed formation; one ammunition of 12 pdr consumed (die roll 2)   

Friant's rgt closes defeating an attempt by the gunners and their supports to keep them at bay, inflicting one casualty on the supporting brigade who shakes off the morale test like true defenders of holy Russia. Dessaix regiment is on the other hand impressed by the noise and fails to close, which means he won't shoot the guns in next player's phase, and they remain unscreened. 

Gudin 7 e leger attacks the breastworks from the abattis, Jägers resists to a melee, both take a casualty, then re roll, -4 for the French who vainly attempt to use a chance card allowing another re roll. Repulsed shaken with two casualties, one more for the Jägers.  

Kulnev busy running alongside routed hussars, Elisabethgrad hussars cautiously roll to wait and see. The battery tiptoes asap to get back out of charge temptation from the French cavalry. The uhlan conforms by coming behind Eisabethgrad for support. Denisov rallies his brigade to good morale.  

Game turn 6 

Kreutz thinks this mass of cavalry reported by Elisabethgrad officer is too much, succeeds to give orders to kulnev to retire and to Skelon’s dragoons, but fails sending to Platov.                          

Grouchy tells his chasseur brigade that was left to watch the left flank, no useless as the whole of Bruyères' division is there, to go engage watching now his left. The Bavarians have not rallied at all, twice!  Ney's infantry does not dare out of the woods without artillery in disorder with this big cavalry furlough in front. Till it is cleared. French getting in his first move choice. 

 Thiry's dragoons despite disorder and blown horses but elated by their previous success plus having overlapping on both sides of the line, and seeing the opportunity charge Skelon’s dragoon mass not knowing that they are D class Siberians etc. with little horses and lots of newish chaps in the ranks. Twice as many Russians, and luck, they get a melee, (as then needs a n roll to unlock, no melée is carrying on another 15-30min! and once in melee the non charging thing does not apply) one casualty each side then , second melee result which gets the attacker back, even more tired and cooled down (lost élan marker).

Bruyères has engage orders so can only charge flanks and rears etc. position himself so as to intercept Kulnev if this one was inclined to get the hussars with blown horses.  

The retire order reaches Skelon who deploys and moves back facing the French dragoons, not enough movement to cross in one go, cannot trot double move crossing this any way. But the order does not reach Kulnev, who waits as the best situation here, nicely bottlenecking the cavalry mass coming from the left... So far. 

Center: all fr skirmishers go for the harassment of their foe, none do any damage though. The Russians hunker down not too sure that any attempt at chasing them would not be worse. 

Something that can only happen with fog of war on. In a normal game Zonnenbach Russian near Q village would not be seen by the French, their side of the bank is higher there. So with their order to support the nearby guns and infantry they are aware of the relative unsupported situation of the fr skirmisher the fr player too greedy wanted not to be losing bits of his columns.

The French 33rd legère of Dessaix division gets the surprise, fail to react (they had every little chance to form hasty clumps (counting as surprised disordered squares) the extreme range shooting to help of three fr batteries does nothing. So they get ridden down losing 5 steps (one for two cavalry joyfully sabering them). They will rout and maybe later will be rallied and a couple of these dispersed chaps strength points after hours will be back, till then pretty much out.  Not a good turn overall for the French. 

Denisov facing all these Wüttembergers infantry tries initiative, misses but still gets Player choice on the dice ( he could have got charge or run) retires across the river in disorder hoping to re-join Platov. All other Cossacks rally; obviously not the Bavarians.  Gudin's column conforming to their attack orders enter the abattis, get shot by the Jägers and each rgt loses a step, no problem with morale yet.  

Turn 7

Napoleon totally fails to send any orders this turn! Munching old cheese, half sleepy, with a glass of Patrimonio.  Grouchy changes his mind, gives an order to his spare chasseur brigade to engage on the right, covering the right rear.  Nansouty to Bruyères to attack. 

Now on while alone I will use one of the enemy solo systems I once captured from the much regretted Warweb.

Kulnev goes for it, with everything, Grodno hussars trot in getting one fatigue to get in line, and all for it. Once all controlled units are done, Illowaski Cossacks nearby test and want to join. They go to the right as support not charging but extending the line nicely.  Bruyères first line rushes to help, the horse artillery barks.  But the dice were against it, the Russians lose badly, but it was worth with equal chances. The fr cavalry is now pretty tired. The first Russian line routs, shaking the second ( Chugiuev) Bruyères hussars and Vistula lancers fail to stop and pursue into Chuguiev who routs now with the rest. No luck for them. The Cossack only in side support gets a retire shaken result ( one level less than the fight). One step loss with each fighting Russian unit.  in the game all moves along the table are done before combat resolution.

The Wüttembergers advance, the rest of Ney conform to orders.

Both remaining French skirmish grandes bandes score admirably, each hitting a battery and the supports. One of the batteries gets silenced. Eugene screen not willing to get the treatment of the other one retires behind the river.

Gudin waves his hat and spurs his disordered columns up to the Jägers breasworks. The heroic good (B class skirmish ability 3) 1st and 33rd Jägers resist to a general melée but numbers prevail, the second roll pushes them still in good morale. They lost 3 steps since the beginning and inflicted 5 losses.

V and VIII corps show up on the table as well as all the fr reserve cavalry. The Bavarians having run out of Bier, rally. So does the 7e léger of Gudin.                                                                     Back to top

Turn 8 to 15

The owner of the Russians came for an afternoon to move his boys. Had we started with hidden troops, I would as the French not been so able to pinpoint the weakness in the Russian deployment (which was also my faults as a solo player!!) though I recalled later that the ground behind the Russians on that plateaus is actually steadily rising to the rear till the “end of the world/wall”. So from the lower heights (really at places at most a couple of dozen meters above the river level, their masses as it would be said at the time, would be more or less seen for the first lines at least. Not from the bottom though.

As we played, there was no way to slow down so much to take pictures and certainly to write a novel from it. So now it goes with way fewer details and from memory.

Several turns saw a lull in the cavalry fight on the right (I will take the view point of the French;) as the whole of Kreutz corps was hauled back out of the way across the river. He went on a sort of bemused silence for several turns, no doubt wholly out of depth with the contest, he being a “mediocre” leader, missing giving any orders to coordinate his divisions..

On the left, Beauharnais also missed a few orders to be sent on time so his reinforcing the “probe turned attack” to draw in and pin more Russians went nicely but too piecemeal when Bagration who was all through the game very active, brought back troops, and reinforcements. Gudin division took so long to recover its fatigue that I never had time to send them back in. On the other end the Russians facing them could not ignore them nor see what could be behind.  

Napoleon who went asleep another half an hour, then sent Murat on the right to coordinate and push the 2 cavalry corps there. On the way he managed to rally La Houssaye dragoon division which nevertheless stayed behind having to get back some stragglers and fatigue. In a face to face game the French would not know through the flank Cossack screen if the Russians would not push in a raid à la Korff at Borodino, so keeping a division there is not out of step. The left flank is deemed barely practical to move, but the right is undulating and with occasional woods, a perfect ambush site. The lone Cossack brigade in the woods there stayed in the Bavarians in the open watching the place. Only once the Cossack “nuisance parties” that is in my rules the dispersed bands that would sneak in the intercept your messages, did force an order to Attack (instead of engage) to Eugène B to move the long way back. Too dense deployment and many cavalry; they cannot move close to cavalry, obviously. Then I forgot about them, having dozens of manoeuver elements to take care off and an increasing number of fights along the line. The rorganizing Russian cavalry, on the initiative of Kulnev watched the river, as did the French cavalry corps, having cleared the way for Ney.

Ney went in initially on his own initiative having only an Engage order, forcing to roll twice for orders, initial moves ok with the intention, but soon needing Attack orders to close in with the Russians. He did it nicely using a harder but successful coordinated corps order moving his units in echelon left, then attacking with Ledru the village and getting into the Russians positions. Razout and Neubronn went in support, while Wollwarth watched the bridge.

Around GT 14 Davout sent one then two divisions, Compans and Dessaix  (but I screwed up as the one in front right was the C class and two B were those I left in the rear reserve!-maybe he did not want to endanger his step brother). It was a big struggle just as Borodino was historically with attack and counter-attacks till the French got a secured footprint on the plateau from the Russians of VI and II corps, both commanded by rather dull generals, Dokturov and Baggovut so as a Russians I managed to put my less responsive chaps at the Schwerpunkpt. Napoleon ordered Latour Maubourg to support Davout and to Sorbier to form a grand battery to follow up with IIIrd and guard corps guns. 

Ledru got stuck in a stalemate by Tolstoi who moved forward but failed to dislodge him. Uvarov guard light cavalry and Hussars rushed in by the active Barclay did not manage to catch the franco Portuguese brigade out of square nor to coordinate with the infantry attacks. (need the right combo of moving first and second as inf. And cav. Cannot attack the same target together.)

Napoleon ordered Poniatowski reinforced corps (with Merle Swiss) to follow up Ney and be ready to take over the attack. Daendels division was re attached from Vandamme (VIII corps) to proceed to support Davout. The mighty Hessians...

Meanwhile on the left Eugene struggled against Bagration: Galitzin called in part of Duka division which cleared the recently lost breastworks giving a breather to the rapidly dwindling numbers of VII corps. They pursued down to the river to be blasted by Eugene grand battery from the other side;, then back out of the fight.  paskiecitch division first and second line plus the oth's division jaeger brigade nearly lost 90% of their troops in the struggle, counter attacking Broussier then Delzons divisions to a standstill. using their stoic characteristic they traded casualties vs. recoils and had good dice. TRUE HEROES. Delzons' division routed to the rear for the day. Eugene called in his last full division, the Italians, only having the tiny guards in reserve.

Napoleon ordered a grand battery formed with all the horse artillery of the guard, the mobile machine gun, using a card to move fast they rushed to Murat to clear out the way accross the river.

Kulnev uses initiative to move out diminishing the casualties from the guard artillery who despite its ability to re-roll and the use of one of the two the artillery general rerolls, managed to cause few casualties on the Russian hussars. But the way was cleared for the French cavalry to cross and re order themselves unopposed.                                                                                                  Back to top

Uvarov seized a chance sending hussars in the flank of the French cavalry surging over the river, pushing out a combined Polish Prussian brigade back out. But they were taken away by the guns attached to the Württembergers and the cuirassiers coming next. 

Davout  went in further chasing off counter attacks by Korff dragoons and generally getting the upper hand with his skirmishers and good troops. The mighty grand battery deployed , 88 guns and blasted  IInd Russian corps away in one hour.  latour maubourg went around the grand redoubt now in fren,ch hands to clear out the rest of Korff annoying cavalry.

Now as barclay I remembered the troops not put on the table! Behind the suffering IV corps are the Guards and their formidable Kuirassier division. It took a while to bring them in as too far. As Russian the center had to be withdrawn before being fully anihilated, the day was nearly over and the night was going to save them for a renewed fight the next day. III Tuchkov corps went in, the last reserve to fill in facing davout, VI corps having been badly tired too. Eugene troops were finally sent back in disarray by Bagration attached to the VII corps elite troops Neveroski heroic elite divison and the grenadiers. Three divisions took finally 5 Russians the whole day, that was the point. 

I decided to stop the thing not to take out of the drawers even more figures, the thing pretty much done as I don't know how to save the Russians from further beatings. I still decided for the fun of it to deploy the whole French guard corps that would partly bring in the estocade the next day. 

My Russian deployment was faulty and both sides had their reserve way too far back. It was mighty, fun and a lot of work, will do it again, better in September (2019!).                                Back to top

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