Saturday, June 8, 2019

IRON CROSS: Crossing the Merderet River!

  In honor of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, Ken pulled out all the stops and threw his outstanding 20mm kit on the table for his first-ever Iron Cross game!  The reader may remember Dave and I played Iron Cross a number of years ago and it was great fun.  [click]  So much fun that I'm surprised we waited THIS long to play it!

We played the "capture" scenario from the book with me playing the Yanks and Ken playing the Germans.  The Yanks are battling their way inland storming Hitler's Reich.  In this game there is a swampy area across the bridge that the US forces must seize.  I have roughly double the amount of gear that Ken has, including a US infantry company, and a tank platoon.  I start with 1/3 of my forces in reserve (an important thing to remember later...) and Ken starts with everything hidden.

US Forces in the "assembly area" waiting to move out!

US forces doing their pre combat checks prior to attacking "Ramelle" 

Ken laying out the Germans.
I start off with the infantry attacking through the woods, taking a more covered and concealed approach towards the initial town and an MMG covering them in the center.  The Armor moves through the open fields up to the town.  Ken has an MMG in one of the buildings, along with 2 x squads that will act as a sort of covering force to buy time for their Kamaraden to deploy!  I like Ken's strategy, shooting then leap-frogging back towards the "friendly" side of the Merderet River.

View from the US side towards the river / bridge and the ultimate objective!
 I love how in Iron Cross at the beginning of the game you have the ultimate flexibility to do what you want, especially as your troops are fresh and don't have morale markers on them.  As the battle grinds on and progresses, things get much tougher to do.  The concepts of fatigue and suppression are both handled in a very effective manner.

Village in the lower left will have to be taken - there's no way around it Captain!

US infantry squads move into the woods by the town.
 We used dice as command tokens.  Simple but effective and hard to miss.

Armor moving up to support.  I quickly learned the lesson of having infantry support my tankers.
 Ken fires the MG42 at my advancing infantry and breaks contact!  Surprisingly, his infantry with their deputy commander take a shed-load of morale markers, but do well on their morale tests on following turns.  It is remarkably hard to kill infantry squads in this game but I think that is perfectly reasonable.

Ken's MG team making its way back towards friendly lines.

Note the cool look of the roads.  we played on Ken's painter dropcloth / homemade game mat.
 I also learn how darn effective support weapons can be and we both use our MMG's to good effect - perhaps one of the most casualty producing weapons of the battle today?

American MMG team banging away at the enemy.
I realize, too late probably, that there are reactions you need to make at certain times, like when your squad is on the ropes and needs a morale check badly and the enemy keeps shooting at him, or when you have an MG team covering your forces and the enemy is whittling away at them on the edge of the objective.  What I really love about Iron Cross is that it forces you to think "realistically" and "set up" your attack with your most advantageous and casualty producing weapons.  You need forces to cover your advancing units, all the while ensuring you have a fresh reserve to put in at the right time.  This game is about timing, decisions, and combined arms more than anything else and it's a ton of fun.  The game takes place very much in the realm of "the close fight" and things you might expect from "company level" rules are not in here.  Instead you're thrust into the role of a company commander and your resources and attention are stressed to the max.

Not enough room in the building, eh?  We'll wait outside guys, sure.

Ken's deputy command squad breaking contact.  Ken and I also learned about the value of the "fallback" order.  My Sherman drives in closer to the field to finish these guys off but they ultimately escape.  I think they were almost knocked out like 3 times!
US Infantry advancing through the woods to put fire on the Germans
 My attack finally reaches the outskirts of the first village but I'm running out of steam and there are only 3 turns left!  Gotta make something happen or we'll throw off the whole Division's timetable!

US Armor reaching the outskirts of the village

MMG laying covering fire
 I send a bunch of units forward but it's too little, too late.  Ken has plenty of hidden units remaining guarding the bridge.  This isn't going to be a walk in the park!  I send up armor to the riverbank to fire at the Germans on the other side.  Ken's Panther makes an appearance!  Holy Moly!

My Sherman 76mm firing at the infantry but he'll have a much juicier target soon enough!  Ken's Panther comes out to shoot at the Ami's.

I pre-empt the Panther's shot and it gets killed this or next turn.  Can't quite remember but it was exciting!  

Come on, guys!  They need us up there at the bridge!  US Forces rally and move out

Americans at the river bank.  Ken has more nasty surprises waiting for them.  My squads start taking casualties waiting for the other squads in their platoon to show up!
 Ken makes a bold move and counter-attacks with an infantry squad at the bridge!  They have Panzerfausts and move in to 8 inch range and open fire, knocking out my Sherman at the bridge!  Crap!  Meanwhile Ken's Support MG stand is racking up the morale markers on my US infantry!  Crap!

The AT gunner who fired the Panzerfaust earns an Iron Cross today!

A Sherman goes up in flames from a Panzerfaust hit!  I need to put more fire on those Germans!

I bring up some of my remaining infantryo n the table (still have an entire platoon in reserve) and knock out Ken's command group in the swamp on the other side of the river.  Good shooting, team!

Ken's infantry defending the village.  We called it beginning of Turn 7 - there was no way I was going to capture the swamp this turn which was my scenario assigned turn limit.

Wow what a great game!  Iron Cross is a blast and always gives an exciting, tense game.  I really like how the rules play and I like how few modifiers there are.  You're constantly making decisions and I had a token in my hand during almost all of Ken's later moves in the later turns.  One of the worst positions you can find yourself in is out of command tokens.  You have to keep a reserve of them to react to the enemy's moves or else he'll walk all over your troops during his own turn.
This game was great and I will add it's really hard to kill enemy troops, as it should be.

For me, I probably should have had my squads a little closer together in order to provide mutual support.  I also realized halfway through the game I never once used my mortars!  I also realized I should have been taking morale checks, making more reactions, and conducting more aggressive thrusts towards the objective.  I feel like Iron Cross rewards the use of good planning and good tactics.  Mission Accomplished!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Planning Considerations for Davout's Attack at Wagram: Snappy Nappy

Kind of the cart before the horse playing the game first, but this battle received such a generous amount of likes, comments, and support at 2 x Facebook groups (10mm Wargaming and Little Napoleonics) as well as interest from the Snappy Nappy yahoo group that I thought I would post my planning considerations for the battle and resources in case someone else wanted to try it out.

First of all, let it be known to the world that I have a modest, 6 x 4 foot wargaming table.  Barely enough surface space for Aspern-Essling, let along Wagram!  So what to do?  I can't make more table space.  I CAN select a "slice" from a famous battle like Wagram, and I have plenty of resources and maps to satisfy that requirement.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the 1809 Campaign as only Mr. Chadwick can deliver.
The Volley & Bayonet Austria Stands Alone supplement has an outstanding game map of the Wagram battlefield, complete with Orders of Battle and troop dispositions on the map!  Perfect!

Along the West and North edge of the Wagram map it's a whopping 15 feet by 12 feet!  Clearly that won't do.  So I looked at the map.  On the right flank of the battle, Davout's III French Corps is arrayed to assault Markgrafneusiedl.  This hard-fought action is very conveniently condensed into a 4' wide by 6' long corridor. 
Picture taken from the Volley and Bayonet Austria Stands Alone Supplement pg 45.  Used without Permission.
This seemed like a very interesting and hard-fought infantry battle that would not only be a good test-drive for the Snappy Nappy rules for my group, but would also allow me to put all of my Austrian infantry on the table as well!  Score!

The terrain was interesting enough with the marshy-banked Russbach, the town of Markgrafneusiedl, and the heights beyond the town.  I reproduced the road network, also, since roads become much more important at this scale of game where regiments / brigades are maneuver units.

Next up is the Order of Battle (OOB).  Technically there were 3 x Corps involved with this battle:  Davout's III Corps up against the Austrian IV ArmeeKorps and the Austrian Avantgarde in a reserve position on the heights beyond the town.

In regards to the size of this game, I wanted to put all my toys on the table, and so that required a small shift of the stand size to approximately 1,000 Soldiers per stand, instead of 2,000. 

As you will see below, this worked out to roughly each unit being a Regiment.  Had I gone with the "vanilla" Snappy Nappy recommendations (2,000 Soldiers per stand), I would only have needed to field 8 to 9 units for Davout's III Corps.  In this instance, I fielded each of the Regiments which put me at 18 Regiments on the table.  I kept the artillery ratio the same and also had to split the cavalry ratio given the numbers of mounts/troopers.  I kept the artillery at 1 stand = 24 guns.  The Cavalry were split into 350 mount/trooper to 1 stand.  Meaning a full Cavalry Regiment (2 x stand units) was 700 mount/troopers strong.  All artillery in this case is medium.  All French troops were Veteran.  All Austrian troops were seasoned.  You could play with those values all day I think.  Button counters beware!  I took many licenses with the troops below to make this OOB practical.  If me consolidating many, disparate landwehr units into 1 single or 2 units makes you uncomfortable, skip this post!

Here is the OOB of III (French) Corps straight from the V&B 1809 supplement book, and with unit characteristics added for Snappy Nappy.

3rd Corps d'Armee
Marshal Davout - Charismatic

3 Foot Batteries (Corps Artillery) 1 artillery stand
Cavalry Brigade Pajol
11th Chasseurs 691 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
12th Chasseurs 718 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
5th Hussars 683 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

1st Division
General d'Division Morand - Dashing
2 x Foot Batteries 1 artillery stand

Brigade Lacour
13th Legere 1,922 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
17th Ligne 2,145 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
30th Ligne 2,140 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Brigade l'Hullier
61st Ligne 1,978 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

2nd Division 
General d'Division Friant - Dashing
2 x Foot Batteries 1 artillery stand

Brigade Gilly
15th Legere 2,013 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
33rd Ligne 2,086 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Brigade Barbanegre
48th Ligne 1,889

Brigade Grandeau
108th Ligne 1,724 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
111th Ligne 2,079 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

3rd Division
General d'Division Gudin - Dashing
2 x Foot Batteries 1 artillery stand

Brigade LeClerc
17th Legere 2,384 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Brigade Boyer
12th Ligne 1,922 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
21st Ligne 1,833 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Brigade Dupellin
25th Ligne 1,347 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
85th Ligne  1,972 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

4th Division
General d'Division Puthod - Dashing
2 x Foot Batteries 1 artillery stand

Brigade Girard
Composite Units 1,852 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Brigade Desailly
Composite Units 2,138 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

1st Dragoon Division
General d'Division Grouchy - Dashing

Brigade Guedin
7th Dragoons 492 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
Italian Dragoons 546 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
30th Dragoons 711

2nd Dragoon Division
Pully - Dashing

23rd Dragoons 403 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
28th Dragoons 255(1 unit of 2 x stands)
29th Dragoons 451

Cavalry Division Montbrun
General d'Division Montbrun - Dashing
1 x Horse Battery 1 artillery stand

Brigade Jacquinot
1st Chasseurs 351 (consolidated into 1 unit of 2 x stands)
2nd Chasseurs 377
7th Hussars 491

IV ArmeeKorps
Feldmarshalleutnant Rosenberg - Dashing
Corps Artillery 1 Artillery stand

Division Bartenstien 
Feldmarshalleutnant Bartenstien - Dashing
Consolidated Division Artillery 1 Artillery stand
IR #2 2,282 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR #33 2,198 (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Division Rohan
Feldmarshalleutnant Rohan - Dashing
Consolidated Division Artillery 1 Artillery stand
IR #8 Ludwig 2,205 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR # 22 Coburg 2,153 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
Consolidated Landwehr (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Division Radetzky
Fedlmarshalleutnant Radetzky - Dashing
Consolidated Division Artillery 1 Artillery stand
IR #3 Erherzog Karl 3,112 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR #50 2,104 (1 unit of 2 x stands)
Consolidated Landwehr (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Avantgarde Division (Reserve) Active after Turn 5 on a 1D10 roll of LESS than the current turn.
Feldmarshalleutnant Nordmann
Consolidated Division Artillery
IR #44 Bellegarde (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR #58 Beauieu (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR #46 Chasteler (1 unit of 2 x stands)
Consolidated Landwehr (2 units of 2 x stands)
IR #4 Deutschmeister (1 unit of 2 x stands)
IR #49 Kerpen (1 unit of 2 x stands)

Cavalry Division Nostitz - Available immediately
Feldmarshalleutnant Nostitz - Dashing
1st Dragoons 720
6th Dragoons 600
3rd Chevaulegers 840
6th Hussars 960

Setup & Game Parameters
French must capture the town of and the heights beyond Markgrafneusiedl.  Since turns are 1 hour long the French have 12 turns to make this happen with the game ending around 9pm.

Davout's Corps sets up anywhere up to 12" from the south edge of the map.  The Austrian player should deploy with the IV ArmeeKorps arrayed in defensive positions immediately behind the Russbach.  In the spirit of Snappy Nappy, the Austrian player should set up simply anywhere north of the Russbach.

If you want to go at this solo or with some friends, the French start on Attack orders.  The Austrian IV ArmeeKorps and Avantgarde starts on Defend orders.  The Austrian player can decide what orders he wants the Cavalry Division Nostitz to start under

If not playing with a GM, players may opt to request an orders change that is outside of their starting orders and outside of their ability to move freely up or down, by passing a morale check (Veteran for French, Seasoned for the Austrians).  The new orders go into effect the next turn.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Davout's Attack at Wagram: A SNAPPY NAPPY Battle Report

Davout was ordered to take his III Corps and assault the heights beyond Markgrafneusidl during the second day of the Battle of Wagram in 1809.  Doing so would unhinge the Austrian position and put the Austrians at a severe disadvantage.  I wanted to game this fight since it would conveniently fit on a 6 x 4 table, so using the map from the "Austria Stands Alone" Volley and Bayonet supplement, I planned out this battle with the use of the "Snappy Nappy" rules and my 10mm figures.

French divided up into units.  I think I had MORE units than were present in III Corps, including a sizable Cavalry contingent.  Closest to the camera is the village of Glinzendorf, with Grosshofen center-left, and Markgrafneusiedl upper-center, guarding the approaches over the Russbach.  The heights are clearly visible in the upper left.  
 This game featured the attack against the IV ArmeeKorps' position by Davout's III French Corps de Armee.
Cavalry Corps!

The Austrian IV ArmeeKorps!

View from the Austrian side towards the French starting positions

Austrian reserves - elements of the Avant Garde.


An Austrian Infantry Regiment

French Troops clog the roads
 Dave weights the extreme left of the French Corps boundary with a huge infantry column and moves his cavalry and attached corps artillery up with them.  A second infantry column moves straight up the road.

The Emperor orders you to attack!
 My Cavalry "division" is on attack orders and crosses the Russbach to assault the French while they are still in column.  It's not going to work out the way I want it, but it has the desired effects of slowing down the French horde!

Austrian Cavalry moving up to cross the stream.  They'll be swarmed by French shortly!

Austrians await the French assault!  Note the lead of the French column is visible in the upper left!

Austrian Cavalry crossing the stream!

As much as I want to charge that lone battery, I cant - don't have the movement for it

Hungarian Regiment in Markgrafneusiedl!

Covering the bridge - Dave is moving his cavalry up towards the crossing sites!  The battle is about to be joined soon!
 It's worth noting that the French command distance is 18" vrs the Austrian 12" command distance.  This enabled the French much more flexibility in using their commanders.  My feet were glued to Markgrafneusiedl!  I next did what any reasonable Cavalry commander would do against such long odds...I charge!!!!

Charging into the lead French units.  Dave fails to form hasty square but it doesn't matter!  He does well in the melee and I do badly in the morale rolls!
 My charge against the lead French units on the French left has the desired effect of forcing Dave's units to deploy sooner, however it cost my the whole Division as they become scattered and exhausted by the back and forth combats.  Dave moves his heavy Cavalry across to deal with them, but still has lots of Cavalry to spare!

Austrian Hussars!

Dave's French are fanning out in the farm fields while my Cavalry attempt to shake out as well.

The French battering rams draw ever closer!

Markgrafneuseidl from the Austrian side.  Dave edges his cavalry and artillery closer.
 I guessed Dave's strategy wrong.  I thought he was going to use his Cavalry as a big battering ram, but instead brings up his guns and pounds the Austrian line, forcing big holes into my defense.  Units start to break under the pressure and the French Cavalry is there to exploit!  I should note Dave's troops are all "Veteran" and my Austrians are all "seasoned".  A small but important difference!

I maneuver more cavalry on Dave's flank and he puts more infantry into square as a result.  It's having the effect i want for now by keeping more French infantry out of the fight.  Unfortunately my troops are glued-down by the "Defend" orders and I can't move them to exploit the success!
Austrian cavalry threatening the French right!  Note the units in squares to their front!

Meanwhile back at the Russbach, the French are massing to storm the creek and the Austrian positions!  French artillery is getting into position under heavy fire to fire shot into the Austrian positions!

The heavies fight it out!  Cuirassier against Chevaulegers!  The French win the upper hand and my Austrian heavies retreat in disgrace!  I have to use a light Hussar unit to shield them while they attempt to rally next turn!

Lots of firepower covering the approaches but Dave plays smartly and blasts the crap out of my units before he sends any units over

The blue Austrian hussar unit on the left is covering the Chevaulegers off camera.  They would slice right into the flanks of 2 x French Hussar units, damaging one and sending the other packing!

Austrian Avant Garde just sitting there.  I didn't make my reserve roll the entire game.  Doh!

A couple highlights of the game?  Dave moves up his infantry in front of the Austrian guns, with tightly packed French lines behind them.  Well the infantry fail a morale check forcing a morale check of EVERY unit they retreat into!  Dave's lucky rolling staves off disaster - he lost that unit that failed but it was the only French loss of the battle.  Also the back and forth nature of the Cavalry battles on the left were great fun.  Dave was finally also able to force much of my infantry behind the Russbach into square and when he forced one or two units to retreat i called it around turn 12.  This would have been 9pm at night as well and the battle was coming to a close by then.  

Dave never did take the heights, however the Austrian's likely would have thrown in the towel at this point and withdrew under the cover of night.  A great day of Napoleonic gaming with Snappy Nappy!

Dave and I really enjoyed this game and the rules worked out well.  I like the swings with the D10 which seems to produce enough "random events" for you without needing a mechanism to determine random events.  I like how a unit could go through multiple melees without a scratch, losing big time in one but only going down 1 morale level.

We will definitely play Snappy Nappy again.  I am also keen on trying this same battle with Blucher to see how it goes as well.  Probably worth mentioning that I wanted to try to play Waterloo today with either Commands and Colors or the Neil Thomas Napoleonic Wargaming rules but ended up playing Snappy Nappy with my 1809 kit.  Too many choices and too little time!