Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday Shako and a Bonus Game: Et Sans Resultats (ESR) Napoleonic Wargaming Rules!

Ken was gracious enough to allow us to keep our epic SHAKO II game up through the week so we could finish it this weekend.  I know you were all on the edges of your seats in anticipation of the final chapter of the battle - the death-knell of the Austrian invasion of 1809!

When we left off last week, Dave's Bavarians (my painted Bavarians) were just arriving in my deep right flank from a flank march mission, to which I promptly sent the entire Cavalry division against them - heavy horse as well as light hussars.

I rolled well for Division initiative (i LOVE this feature of Shako II and it really adds an element of tension as to which Divisions will move in which order) and launched a spoiling attack against Dave's French who, in their current frenzy were preparing to over-run me this turn.  The attack went off fairly well and sent back Dave's leading Battalions.  To be fair, all of our leading Battalions were suffering from the 4 turns of firefights along the line.  I just capitalized on winning the initiative roll and sent in my Austrians who by virtue of having 1 more strength point, were able to absorb more damage.

Austrian Cavalry Division enroute to attack the Bavarians emerging from the woods.

Dave's lead battalions are sent to the rear after the Austrians launch a spoiling attack

I give a little ground at this point, just in case my horse aren't able to dislodge the Bavarians.

Dave lording over the French.  he skillfully handled this small Corps.  I for one am looking forward to more Shako!

Situation at the end of th battle

Austrian left
 My spoiling attack kind of ruined Dave's plans for exploiting a breakthrough on the Austrian right.  At this point I should mention my orders, straight from the Archduke, to hold the crossroads to my rear.  I am happy to report to his excellency that the crossroads remain in our hands.

Dave continued to move in with his second line as I move up fresh troops to absorb them.
 So it's worth mentioning here that we goofed and Dave formed his Bavarians into square in the woods to defend against my Cavalry charge.  Well, Cavalry cannot charge stuff in the woods and we didn't fully realize this rule. We regenerated the Bavarian battalion and kind of were like "do-over".  The cavalry could not attack the Bavarians. So anyways the Cavalry, following their orders, galloped right around those Bavarians in the woods.  Still however, if I could keep them bottled up in those woods, all the better!

The heroes of the day.  The tough Austrian line.

Dave capitalizing on a breakthrough moves in for the kill!
 we also realized the folly of trying to melee with elite troops.  Tough work, as Dave found out going head to head against my Austrian Grenadier battalions.

View from the French side.
 At this point, the French broke off contact and withdrew in good order.  The Austrian shoulder of the army was saved.

And now?  BONUS SELECTION.  or as I like to call it "Dave's Revenge!"  We played our first game of "Et Sans Resultats" a set of rules aimed squarely at Army and Corps level command.  Aside from getting into a lengthy rules discussion here, I will say that ESR delivers on its promises fully.  You have never felt or experienced the problem of commanding a Napoleonic Army as you will in this game.  I promise.

Now onto the ESR game.  I stayed on my side of the table (closer to the donuts) and Dave stayed as the French.  We kept the terrain the same but the missions changed.  I needed to breakthrough and capture, what I thought was a road leading to a Danube River crossing site, when in actuality I was supposed to capture the crossing site itself!  Oh sh**.  that courier we just sent to Archduke Charles?  Get him back here....

The first thing I'll say is the table looks like a Napoleonic battlefield.  Large, ponderous columns of infantry marching up to the battle area.
Austrian columns 

French columns!

Austrian cavalry on the Austrian left.

The smallest infantry grouping I made as sort of an ad-hoc Garde du Corps who I thought I could use as a holding force.

Ken helping out with the movement!  
 Your job is to figure out what orders you want to give your forces, in light of a greater, over-arching geographical objective.  Then your columns move out "ployed" (opposite of deployed) and you have to roll to see how many of your battalions can deploy out of line when you need them to.  Huge decision points here, folks.

The Austrian columns about to collide head-on into the French!
 At this point, given the proximity of the French, I spend a fatigue point (more on this later) and decide on deploying here to fight.  My cavalry will end up keeping their orders and move straight into the French without as much as a second thought.  This would result in the utter destruction of my Cavalry division!

Austrians deploying for battle.  The rear of the Austrian infantry column is in the bottom right

Battle unfolding
 The one thing I'll say, is this game is about the movement and fighting of Armies, and the table looks like a painting of a Napoleonic battle, with swirling masses of infantry and cavalry locked in brutal combat!

 As my cavalry plow into the French, Dave's Cavalry plow into mine!  Ouch!  not only do the Bavarians (my Bavarians!) route the Cavalry squadrons who attack them, Dave launches his Dragoons into my flank.

"They were just following orders" My hussar squadron moves straight up the hill they were assigned to capture.  Only to find a battery of guns up there.
 Fatigue at this point is killing my formations and for every battle I get engaged in, the sheer amount of fatigue points is ensuring I pay dearly for losing a fight.

The battle unfolds with the Austrians getting a terrible beating.  2 Divisions are gobbled up by the French!

Dave's rampaging Dragoon squadron who won battle after battle after battle before Ken came in and put a stop to it!!!

There is no more Austrian Cavalry!

The last action of the game would see the Austrian Garde du Corps go "up the middle" against deployed French with artillery support and suffer greatly due to skirmisher, artillery, and infantry attacks.  What a waste of damned fine infantry!

10 fatigue points!  Oh lord!
 Thoughts on ESR:
So as you may have been able to tell, this is a game concerned with the movement and placement of divisions, placing you in the shoes of the Army's commander.  True, you're maneuvering battalions around, but the placement, deployment, arrival, and management of your divisions is crucial.  You also have to shepherd your resources and manage fatigue points as they become very devastating after awhile.

Deployment of infantry is very important as is the decision when to deploy and how to deploy.  Placing your guns is a special action made by the division commander, which I love, and combat is handled in a very effective and streamlined way (think about it this way, the combat sequence is not really the star of the show like in so many other game systems, it's just another component of the bigger system).

In ESR, I believe you are really punished for bad decisions, as I certainly was in this game!


  1. Great looking game - grand scale megalomania indeed :-)

    1. Paul,
      It was great fun. Both of these games, Shako and ESR fed my inner megalomaniac!

  2. Shako II is my favourite set of Napoleonic game rules... and I've played so many - Column, Line & Square, Empire II & III, Eaglebearer (computer aided rules), Fire & Steel. Shako beats them all, in my opinion.

    1. Me too John. While Black Powder is my favorite horse and musket ruleset, Shako is probably my favorite for Napoleonics! What a great

  3. Very cool, Steve, thanks for posting. ESR sounds interesting, but I'm really intrigued by Shako.


    1. Jack,
      Shako is an awesome game i love it and highly recommend it. ESR was also lots of fun but on a more "cerebral" level :) a totally different level of command.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Rodger! My friend Ken's table and miniatures.

  5. Lovely looking game. 15mm are great for putting large units on the table. The formations look great.

  6. What a post! An epic day of gaming. Must try to get the later edition of Shako too.

    1. Darren,
      Not many differences from Ed 1. The divisional movement is the biggest. If you download the QRS from the yahoo group that ought to cover the major differences in equipment, if there are any.

  7. Nice battlegroups, and battlefields, and these photos too...

  8. It was definitely two weekends of extreme Napoleonic learning for me. Shako II was a rather interesting game although I am stoll on the lookout for rules of that command level that take maneuvering and formation changes into account at the level I imagine it to be.

    ESR...What can I say, but "WOW!" It truly put a strain on my gaming brain as I have never played that level command before. While many rules attempt to portray that level of high command, I have yet to see it effectively done. Every gamer dreams of gaming the big battle (Waterloo, etc.) and many give it a go. I would say that unless you are using ESR, you are merely playing multiple engagements within a common theme, but not the "entire" battle you have placed before you.