The scenario calls for a comprehensive upward succession of crests with a river on the side. I had to cut tiles to do it and adapt existing ones.
Drumming in the old set of geo hex, still useful despite sticking annoyingly under mats when trying to cover it. Coupled with the "magical" sand I can create everything.
Pieces of felt to try keep the bits closed up together when lying down the final felt (or mat) cover without all flying around; tricky when alone.
Cover done, long and tedious job. I often use the same layout with mods several times on different periods/ subjects to ease the life.
I used 1 infantry stand for 300 men, one cavalry for 200. Units are German regiments and French brigades. With Jäger and chasseurs separate as "skirmisher" units.
The French were supposed to shoot a bit and retire. When too successful they were tempted to overstay and then get into trouble.
A lot lies in the dice rolls.
A few of them can make a completely different game, if not very many units are engaged. Here 6-8 at any time .
First game, the Germans were badly repulsed, In the second the French missed utterly an unmissable very important shoot which ended up in KatastroF!
The second glorious charge that took all away!
The French I played with one brigade in front of each division, divisional general attached to be able to convert the order to move back (from 1870 BW command system). With increased disorder I did not manage to coordinate (from AOE/AOV tactical control die system). We were more limited in actions with the orders than in the pure AOE system, which made you feel the French less efficient command response.
French infantry has "moved to the rear"
We also need my old event cards adapted to AOE and a sort of division cohesion level to avoid them back too much chewed up. the AOE heavy loss modifier will do nicely. It worked well; looking forward doing more. Bigger of course. I have a bunch of painting to have the whole thing done. Back to top
An unusual supposedly balanced encounter...
The French I played with 1st, 7Th, 4th and Garde corps plus artillery reserve, Chasseurs d'Afrique and Bonnemains cuirassiers divisions. Commanders average or mediocre (Army and two corps) rest average.
Germans had three standard Korps (I, III, X) plus Garde and two cavalry divisions and a Württemberg brigade with 2 batteries to make numbers. All commanders but Rheinbaben (4.KvD) good, two excellent. In case of orders below division they would be rated average as I don't think the difference with the French would be sensitive at this level. They have their good guns and a bit more elite troops as the Garde had 9 full regiments, 90 stands of it!
A moderatly dense terrain that would do for somewhere in Lorraine. A derivation from a previous 15mm napo table which was randomly chosen from the terrains in old 7YW rules.
Did not use the unknown terrains effects to quicken things. This river is only fordable on bridges of which we have an extraordinary number (3) for the time on 10 km!
Keep it together tables, the third can be used in case but mostly it allowed storing the 15mm trees for further use. Starting closer to engagement should make it faster, if not realistic.
Cardboard rectangles with a number showing also in which direction they face, and the formation, one side facing the shorter side means they are in march mode, long side deployed. Used with all games.
We were effectively playing this so I forgot to take pics and obviously could not take notes not to kill the play. On the right side you can see a Prussian cavalry division probing the area as mine if doing the same behind the big hill, foolishly in column to speed up things.
Still many cards still there though we knew many were infantry or cavalry around 4km in sight. We let them longer to speed up moving things. My cavalry column is about to feel the Krupp as Rheinbaben division just installed 3 batteries under their nose.
Troops appear as I hesitate and mishandle using properly the terrain in a waiting posture putting myself in long range of a now installing big battery. The German had a +1 for the "who choses who moves first" roll of each turn, tempered by and increasing bonus for the one who did not win the preceding turn(s).
Managed to retire this cavalry but the 2nd division of infantry will lose 4 bases before I can put them to safety.
The Germans managed a few consecutive moves which did hell at the beginning. I also had to change orders, my poor generals falling asleep quite often.
Left side viewed from the French side. A massed two German divisions coming down on one French. I kept most of my troops arrayed in depth.
He went fast and a bit too far in column, which in AOV helps getting faster moves but if caught, get to x2 the opposition firepower.
Something like turn 5 with the German garde cavalry just arrived keeping the right of his massed .Korps attack on the center village lightly held as enfants perdus by a group of franc-tireurs and a chasseur bataillon. The garrison of that village had extraordinary dice in shooting and then repulsed an attack by 3 times their number.
Garde first division deploys but Pz Augustus the Korps chef refused to move.
The Germans getting suppressed in the process a hard result taking time to re start moving. basically 2 regiments were put out of use before the heroic defenders were smashed.
On the left another German Korps moved very slowly he used manouever orders then converted to engage to use mostly the guns. On the big hill another division moved in after negotiating woods.
I was then lucky getting the one of a kind one shot card telling them "confusion in orders, retire". gaining 2 turns for this artillery mass to finally deploy. My chaps having a mediocre corps commander did not much benefit from it as he persisted in not giving retire orders.
You can see my right flank cavalry division whose first brigade got all but shot up in the first turns with its silly movement in columns. My two horse batteries did a real good job with out of statistics dice, slowing the German cavalry.
The village garrison a chasseur bn got expelled after a stiff fight. A brigade got shot up by the guns. I managed to counter attack nicely that German solitary brigade which wanted to sit on the central VP, out of the guns LOS.
A stiff fight on the hill won by the French seriously damaging the brigade till... the close combat pursuit brought the lead F brigade just to the now free Line of sight of a lot of guns. Their dice were not too good but as Ducrot did not give the retire order in time and then that commander did not want to go for yet another turn, they lost 1/4 th of their strength uselessly.
The German center attack was a bit piecemeal; they crushed my valiant defenders but as they were well damaged they carried on (again orders to stop attacking did not go for a turn) and got themselves shot up. That division actually was so spent that it gave the Korps the dreaded -1 on the manoeuvre table for excessive losses. I do it by corps not for the whole army.
The left side as viewed from the French reporter. My division pulled back in time from the sight of the deploying guns. I was obvious these Germans had no attack orders which would have put them in front of that battery. I was trying to bring the other division but it took so much time that I never putt them on the table.
The Germans managed to bring in 2 cavalry division. they are independent units (he could have them attached to the flank infantry Korps by order from the army) so they had to change orders by initiative which did not work well. The cautious Rheinbaben, true to history, slowly accepted to support the infantry flank. No doubt Prinz Albrecht, so disgusted got that reason to roll a 2 on 2D6 and retire when the player wanted to attack.
Right center heavy fighting, significant casualties for both sides. He kept not knowing where my reserves where (most of which constantly refused to come in;) and was cautious. It became a stalemate; he was getting too damaged to really go for an assault. His guns often rolled very poor dice.
On the left I managed to reoccupy the village after a lucky first move just when he started to attack, his guns having nearly no targets. This regiment did good dice and devastated the attackers suppressing them and shooting them to pieces over 3 turns.
The center and left main fighting viewed from the German side. He finally managed to disengage the chewed up units of 1. Korps to safety. I would not counterattack even if my army commander woke up. That line of guns was too much.
The Prussian Garde constantly did nothing. I managed to retire my guns not to get any longer into a shooting contest with them. Another stalemate. By now the Germans had several weakened divisions, more than the French.
1. Korps especially would not stand if attacked.
The left flank French cavalry division managed to sneak past on a bridge on the other side of the big river. It was long taken to be a dummy card till they came to sight. They are now behind the German right flank.
All the German cavalry divisions were on the other flank and the Garde was committed in the center. The French cavalry had to change from manouever orders to engage, it took 2 turns allowing the Germans to deploy back an artillery battalion and a dragoon rgt covering it.
Attempts to send an infantry regiment alongside did not pass the order. the French charged and pushed away everything, taking minimal casualties. Next turn did not go so well as the Germans moved first. It just stuck towards the rear a German brigade and most of their guns. The repulsed covering dragoon heroically rallied and repulsed a second French charge while the guns stopped the other brigade.
Fierce fighting on the left.
The Germans managed to start turning the stubborn village with their third line through the woods to be somewhat checked by the Franc-tireurs de Paris who finally arrived from the rear left. Had I continued the game they would not have stood much but by that time I had another division deployed with the first.
The left flank at the end. I decided not to carry on the Germans having 6 units spent, 7 more fatigued and far more than the French, whose reserves, the 16 batteries and the garde where going to enter the fray pour l' estocade monsieur!
As I had to finish the last turns alone it was too slow and too much. Turn 13 the Prussian garde managed to move ahead but with shaky flanks. If I had pushed an attack with them on the mostly intact 3 divisions, partly elite of the 1er corps, plus foot artillery reserve (8x12lb) I think they would have failed.
Part of the mortuary of German 1. Korps. Counting the losses for the -1 on manoeuver. The scenario worked well but was a bit too grand for 1 guy. Especially as I had to do it over days. Overall 12000+ German casualties vs 8000 French. "only" 12% ans 7 %. Many troops were not engaged which is about right for such a fight.
The table at the end.
See the changes I did to the rules and the reasons for them. It worked very well. My command system makes you feel the just slower responsiveness of the French compared to the Germans leaders, something missing in Age of Valor.
But AOV fighting system is really easy to go.
CAMPAIGNING THE 1870
By far the best way is to do a simple campaign is using a boardgame, on a side table or on a computer with or without an umpire. Only 2 players are enough and one could even get the campaigning done or at least one, not actually be the same as the one(s) playing the tabletop battles. Vae Victis has and is to release some games for it, the Loire campaign is quite suitable for this specific and most interesting part.
Otherwise for the whole thing, I advocate the old Strategy and Tactics #149 which can be found on cyberboard and the paper game with the important needed rules (but you would do the battles with minis). A few are left at ST site and here and there maybe Second chance Games in the Uk and even saw one on Amazon...
Original cyberboard version http://limeyyankgames.co.uk/cyberboard?page=9
Cyberboard download my version (I added bocage that explains why fighting near Le Mans, mountains near the Swiss border limiting the ops of the army of the Vosges, and bridges (but not finished) as there were fewer than now, even than 1914 and without that you cannot get Sedan at all and maybe not Metz encirclement. soon...
AND THEN I HAD A STRIKE OF FLAGS...
Wanting to finish the troops....looking at the organization and names, hell came as I realized some of these guys obviously do not have the 1861 issue (on the side here), but somewhat their traditional flags pre 1871. And guess what, AFAIK no one looked and found the whole thing properly. After I searched in German, yes it is not easy at all. You do find the pre 1914 flags but many of the post 70 numbers of regiments change. So I fumbled through and found some and did a sort of collection of those I want to do. You can see in the BW bits down they had flags of unusual patterns for the Landwehr, many look to be of the 1861 type though. No need of the whole army.
These sites can give you good ideas:
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433081834149&view=1up&seq=132 numerized 1900s book which is in NY library. describes many remaining tattered flags. Pics can be found here in colour
Beware of the dates, caution about the post 1871 types.
Pics of the collection of sources for my printing or painting, after all 1cm square for 10mm figs, no need to spend hours trying to create something digital. page up
As the Freiwilliger I thought might participate from TMP forum did not follow up on their volunteering, the Germans were moved with the help of the solo system "Adjudant introuvable" It only works for attackers. It did a decent job of planning. I don't re roll every turn the orders as they can be a bit too random, but use more of a "change of situation" trigger. The brigades which get battered also have the possibility of withdrawing instead of just defending. in AOV you'd rather not get units hammered to the bones as they are pretty useless, and gets you to lose VPs. Here turn 6, the Germans had planned a center attack, the left mostly on a pin/ hold stance, the Bavarians on the right probing, waiting for more troops. The first attack was chewed up and is falling back, waiting for the coming reinforcements and to leave the range for the guns once the few French seen positions were unmasked.
As a French player, I have strong wings and a bit of a general "Wellingtonian" posture, using reverse slopes. The weak point here are the huge woods where fighting is at close quarters and the Germans fire better. A few devastating dice rolls can have lasting consequences unhinging a sector. The Germans have now the two bridges working so plenty of artillery will be crossing to get closer. Soon more Bavarians might prove to be the breaking point, though 3 rgts of Prussians have been rendered near useless; one zouave was half destroyed by Bavarian artillery. It looks the right side (from Fr viewpoint) has the terrain a bit different from reality, but it should not be so much trouble. page up
I used the perfect map from Bruce Weigle rules 1870 https://grandtacticalrules.com/gameboards/. You can have another good one on line here.
A bit from geoportail map of roughly the same period to check and have overlays of 3D and woods.
My table at the scale of AOv allowed for a bit more depth, which never hurts.
I wanted the ups and downs , as much as possible. the limits of reusing existing pieces was the not so gradual slopes but the gamer's traditional you are down then hop you are up one level with too many plateaux.
the3d stuff is in 1/300th scale, actually one "size" down from the figures. Some houses are bigger than others, suitably arranged in distinct villages not to hurt the eyes.
As usual the roads are earth and sandy stones mix that can be vacuumed back in boxes afterwards. they are first drawn lightly with chalk allowing for numerous errors!
After a Leipzig 1813 on the recently done dedicated mat, I left it, adapted a bit the terrain (it is roughly at the same scale) for a big 1870 slug-feast. A sort of meeting engagement to be.
I reused the Leipzig mat, adding a few more rises to limit the Krupp effect, of course changing all 3D stuff from 15mm to 6/10mm. You might have noticed I use 6mm buildings and trees for the 10mm figures. The full thing, with AOV rules, house rules, event cards, slightly downsized from last time: "only" 15 French infantry divisions vs. 13 German ones plus cavalry. My French opponent had a bit of random choices that I would not know of, between having XIIth corps or VIIth and 1-2 reserve cavalry. Of course he did get the big XIIth and 2 cavalry divisions in reserve. Roughly 175000 Germans vs 155000 French. But I had 27000 shaky Bavarians, and he had 25000 elites (part of 1st corps and the guard which I counted as such for thinking themselves above the rest and effectively being promoted/ chosen from the line vs most of the German garde who are only chosen conscripts).
I. III. VI. X. XI. Garde, 2nd Bavarian, Württemberg ID. 4 cavalry divisions.
1er, 2e, 4e, 12e, garde corps 2 divisions de cavalerie. (effectively 6 with the corps cavalry) , the two reserve artillery brigades (foot+horse 8 batteries each). XIIth corps also has a lot of guns.
We used Volley Bayonets and Glory cards set up system to spice up and "bordeliser" the troops arrivals and fog of war. It works marvels. We draw two cards, discard the one we don't want (or the worst one!) and deploy accordingly. We can have everything on the table, or go as far as only 1/4th or less the rest arriving later (a few have 1/4th -or more depending on your pre draw organisation/bets- not there at all!) The troops in the rear can also arrive on the flank of the enemy after a few turns. It happened here that I (the Germans) had a card with a flank attack and one with full deployment. The side I could come from had the rivers with few bridges,mostly obstructed by woods which means an opposed crossing could not be swept away by my excellent guns. I preferred control and safety so full deployment. He chose a card which gave him right flank and center corps there, reserves and left arriving one by one later (from 7 turns on). No idea of the one he discarded, must have been even worse. The thing is we put all troops as markers (one per division roughly sometimes with artillery concentrations too) till seen, add D6 dummies, so as shown in one picture, it is a bit daunting at first. Cavalry and high ground are essential to figure out some of the opposition. For me it was trying to avoid a frontal confrontation with 1st corps and all these elites, then where to insert my 2 reserve corps. I put the poor Bavarians on the left, one side relatively secured by the rivers, and having a ridge in front plus some villages, Probably hidden and not annoyed by the French who too would rely on similar set ups to rest quiet there. The Bavarians would get up at them much later to keep the French corps facing them pinned there. We also used a system of setting up taken from a discussion on The Miniature Page, which puts the troops a bit in a random position (random distance from the minimum advance from the rear edge) on each sector. Has to be revised to fit this table and rules (it was made for napo so here we have much longer engagement ranges, we don't want troops to start in the open at 2 km from each other when the guns can shoot at 3+). Unless you had fog?
After two turns I discovered his whole left vanished (scouts came back saying they were actually no one there) and possibly his reserve. After a few more turns it was clear I was facing one corps (sleeping facing the Bavarians mostly) and the Verdammt 1st corps spread over a too wide area (good news). My table is 12km deep and because I did not know if the opposition could have one of those flanking attack cards, I had to put two corps of the reserve deep sideways, in case. I also had a huge wood cutting my deployment zone in two, smack in the middle, making sideways redeploying longish. So the reserves (Garde,6. Kav. and 1. Korps) took a long time to move up to exploit the weakened divisions of the previous hours of fight. In fact when they really came in (the Garde did not leave its drawers), the first divisions of the French reserves had entered the table and deployed to replace/bolster the chewed up troops of 1st corps. We played 7 turns and I did solo another 10 before giving up the last 3-5 -I randomize the end to figure out that some turns might be longer or shorter and that dusk is not an exact calculation either). The last few dice rolls and decisions were made roughly without moving troops or getting the last hidden guys out. After all I had 3500 figs to get back in drawers afterwards hey?
From Gt 5 on French reinforcements arrived on two roads, one for each corps (IV and XII) . They took a while deploying, to keep cohesion and the all important distances to as many commanders as possible. One does not feel it so much when troops are moving in column, full strength, but when casualties mount, deployed troops become harder to coordinate. Just as it should. Here the French 1st corps, spread out too much, despite half of them, nearly, being elites, able to take more punishment than the others, started to fall back in parts, I even ended up with 3 regiment utterly destroyed. After GT10 it had so much losses that it got the -1 for 30% and I strived to withdraw the battered units behind the advancing XIIth. The three German corps facing it suffered too but it was spread over a higher number of units, and I managed to replace the battered ones. I have an event card system parallel to AOV meant to add confusion and some delays (more to the French to represent a bit their lower command and also some losses recovery for out of engagement troops, plus the unseen obstacles that cropped up in historical battles etc.) So when you withdraw units you might after a while be able to recover a bit some stands, very few but it can make a difference.
I used a double move sequence for the German to bring a cavalry division in an ideal flanking position to one of the newly arrived IV corps division and cavalry. I did succeed in the bet that I could play first... ideal glorious massive cavalry charges in the flank! all french batteries fled behind their infantry (without the guns, silenced) and...of course all the dice where against me, the cavalry was repulses except vs the other cavalry. At least they did not suffer too much and it put a hell of a mess into this Fr corps to recover, face them and 6 batteries where out 3GT. It allowed the Württembergers to move and deploy their 9 batteries unmolested.
On the other flank at the beginning I put 2 of my dummies to move out via the bridge over the other side of the river to ostentatiously flank the French. He send some to see and saw the 2 dummies (who where moving in a very sluggish way, I think I threw 3 ones for 5 rolls!). he concluded all this show was bogus. But the third counter behind was actually a Prussian cavalry division. Despite its seemingly innate reluctance to move (still low rolls until the last 2) it crept around covers to cross behind the French and deploy behind a crest well on the rear of their II nd corps. They ambushed the half believing cavalry brigade in column sent to investigate but much later where cancelled in effects by Bonnemains cuirassiers who came from the center. To bolster the 1st corps, he had to commit the imperial guard who did a good job but got both infantry divisions pretty chewed up in the process.
I really stopped GT 16 when it was obvious the French would have to withdraw, actually would be saved from more damage by the night.
French casualties amounted to 130 bases (including overall some 150 guns) Germans 60+ (including some 50 guns). divisions of French were pretty useless, chewed up , two Germans really damaged too. It was the first game where German divisional cavalry managed to charge, here twice suppressed units. I even had a glorious charge from the French guard light cavalry on Jäger and artillery, well started, ended up like history. Another good game, it would be better if played by 4 all the way, at least I managed to have one guy at the all important beginning.
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