Sunday, January 13, 2019

Teugen-Hausen 1809 (Again) with COMMANDS & COLORS NAPOLEONICS!

The usual suspects were over  to play Napoleonics.  Since I had all the units prepared (and even labeled!) for Teugen-Hausen (using Fast Play Grande Armee [click]) I thought it would be fun to play the Teugen Hausen CCN scenario  [click] to see how it matches up to the historical battle and some of the other rules sets I have been trying of late.

Ken says I "drank the cool-aid" in regards to CCN and I have to say I agree with him.  I really like Commands and Colors Napoleonics (even if I do need to brush up on the rules quite a bit!).  I love the look of the battlefield and I like the tension created by the cards.  You can read about my first, solo adventure with CCN here with Wellesly in the Peninsula at Rolica [click]. Anyways, on to the action!

Ken (Davout) maneuvers his forces to get into position to assault the first series of ridges.  The ridges are a "temporary majority victory banner" which means the player with the majority of them garners 2 banners for the first ridgeline and 1 for the second.  It's a race to the ridges first which Ken wins.  Dave moves his Hussars up to the first ridgeline to contest and Ken forms square to try and beat them back.

Ken's infantry hold the hill but can they keep it?  Note the square formation.
The French squares would remain for the rest of the battle in the front-left.  Hunkering down in the face of menacing Austrian Hussars!
Friant falls to an errant shot in the middle of the squares!  The first (but not last) officer casualty of the game.
Much of the day's fighting would center around the French front-left ridgeline which surprised me a little
 Much brushing up on the rules I have to admit.  I missed a few rules (supports, combined arms attacks come to mind)  I didn't have my rulebook with me as Alex is borrowing the rules right now.
The whole battlefield.  Teugen is visible in the upper center.
 I'm not sure what Ken or Dave's plan is but it seems the action is heating up on the Austrian right quite a bit and it is the scene of bitter fighting for the entire battle.  Ken feeds in units to the right to seize more of the hills, while Dave uses small right-centric cards to keep him from going further!

Dave's Grenzers holding down the left flank.
 THe center and right don't see much action, save for an Austrian cannonade, and the 57th Ligne assaulting the Austrian position battery (with deadly results for the French).

The Austrian left-center.  A tough nut to crack!

Austrian infantry reserve in the center

Dave's hussars (painted RISK pieces!)  take another crack at the french square.  They only can attempt 1 hit per round and same with the square.

Ken storms the ridgeline!  Lights are identified by the skirmisher bases on the sabot
 Ken tries to assault the guns in the center with deadly results!  The French advance to the very muzzle of the Austrian guns to be mercilessly cut down by the Austrian gunners!

More hot fighting for the ridgeline -Dave keeps his Hussars in place to keep Ken's infantry in square.  Ken uses a tactician card to move more infantry up and into place
 The French Artillery is all on the French left/Austrian right now, guarding Ken's flank against those marausing Hussars.

The French right is mostly quiet.  Note the blue dice marking battlefield sections

Austrian left - all quiet!

2 French Brigades in Square on the ridge now and Dave is clawing his way back up onto the hills.  For many turns, Dave and Ken held an equal number of the first ridgeline and neither could claim the 2 banners! 

close up of the action as Dave's hussars menace the ridge!  Ken has fresh infantry on the hilltop as well along with a leader.
 The tactician cards really add some nice flavor to the game and open up a ton of options.  The guys seemed to like them very much.

Grenzers facing off against lights!

The markers are casualties.  Technically we could have removed stands but this looks so much cooler!  Note the unit attrition - the constant fighting is taking its toll!

The Austrian left still fairly quiet

Gratuitous shot of the French lights

Note Ken's victory banners near Teugen.  Dave's are in the upper-center

Endgame.  Dave has enough forces on the second ridge to push him over 8 victory banners at the start of his turn.  Austrian victory!
While being a little historically lopsided, the game was alot of fun to watch and looked like a great time to play.  As is evident in the post, I was very surprised that the majority of fighting occurred on the Austrian right since the majority of forces were posted on the left.  Still though, a general doesn't always get to pick where he fights!  I like that the events in CCN are unexpected and I love the grand-sweeping visual effect of the battlefields.

We quickly realized that ranged combat is deadly - in fact for stationary units it is no different than melee in many cases!  Same amount of dice!  You've been warned!

The Austrians, much derided in CCN, played a very conservative game and that turned out to be a winning strategy.  Dave focused his attention on the first series of hilltops and stayed away from sweeping maneuvers that he knew he couldn't sustain.  Sit tight, and shoot!  You've got 5 shooting dice!

  I like that you never know what your opponent is going to play and that you have to make the most of your cards in order to execute your grand plan.  I think had I reviewed the rules a little more carefully before the game, this would have played much faster.  Overall I really like Commands and Colors and I would like to play even more CC's games including CC Ancients for Roman Civil War, CC Tricorne for AWI, and BattleCry for ACW come to mind.  I'd even like to play Memoir '44 for Operational Level Games.  Naturally this year I'd like to play more CCN for more Napoleonics.  In fact I am thinking I need to really start my Prussians in earnest and get the supplement!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Teugen-Hausen 1809 with FAST PLAY GRANDE ARMEE

Well I finally was able to play a game of Sam Mustafa's "Fast Play Grande Armee" (FPGA).  These are available for free as a download from the Yahoo Group of the same name.  Link here [click].  It is very easy to see where the "Blucher" rules came from after reading through and playing FPGA. 

It's very similar to Blucher although with more structure.  Anyways, the Austrians and French are once again fighting on my table!  Teugen-Hausen, one of my favorite battles of the Napoleonic wars, occurred early during the 1809 campaign and was part of the lead-up to Eckmuhl.  You can read about the real battle here [click].
Teugen in lower left with Saint Hilaire's Division passing through.  Marshall Davout encourages them on, and lends them 2 dice for their control test!  The Austrian advanced guard under Vukassovich are deployed on the hill and awaiting Davout's Corps.  You can see troops from St Julien's Division and Lusignan's Division in the background.
This game will start at Turn 2 (mid morning) and end on Turn 6 (evening) with the possibility of a thunderstorm ending the game early.  FYI - I love putting labels on bases.  what's that about?

Davout urging the men forward at Teugen.
 The [huge, vastly over-strength] Austrian advanced guard is spoiling for a fight! 
A brigade of Grenzers, and 2 brigades of Ehrerzog Karl Legion troops.  I goofed the OOB and made them both 5 strength-point brigades...

Karl Legion troops!  (cleverly disguised as Nassau Light Troops from Quatre Bras...)
 Saint Hilaire's attack goes in with elan but the vastly over-powered Karl Legion troops hold their ground in some instances, and are pushed back in others.  The Grenzers give ground as well but it's going to be a long, tough slog through these woods for St H's division.

Lusignan forms behind the ridgeline.

Hohenzollern-Hechingen takes up position behind the ridge.  The forested ridgeline would be the scene of bitter and confused fighting as Divisions became intermingled after rolling high on their control tests...

St Julien's troops along with the Corps Artillery move up past Hausen

end of the first "pulse" French units in contact will have to roll to see what they can do next.

French maintain the initiative in the second pulse of the first turn.
 Combat is pretty simple and straightforward (but even more so in Blucher - i missed quite a few rules on the first turn).  Units fight equal to their strenghtpoints, but they garner bonus dice for the location of the commanders, sub-commanders and some other factors.  Additionally there are numerous penalties that force you to re-roll dice.  As a credit to Sam Mustafa's writing, however, almost all of my questions were answered by the rules.  (what happens to officers who survive an enemy passing over them?)

French attacks grinding their way up the ridge.  
Saint Hilaire's Division gave a good accounting of itself although the "vanilla" nature of the units did not come through since i used the bog-standard units from the FPGA rules.  (5 SP, 2 Sk).  I think STH's units should hit hard considering they were some of the best units in the French Army at the time.  Anyways they did an awesome job and eventually pushed back almost all of the Austrian Avant Garde.  So far, so good.  Everything that has happened, happened in real life.

Hard fighting as a Grenzer Brigade repulses a French assault!  Tie goes to the defender!

Red bead means the battery has been suppressed by skirmish attacks!

Note the echelon left.  That's important as STH's division will advance into the woods in that fashion.

57th Ligne advance!
 One important thing I'll mention is that when you roll high on a control test, your troops must advance towards the enemy.  Do I have to make a control test for every force on every turn?  I have to double check the rules.

Also - what about Corps troops?  Does the Corps Commander make control tests for them?

The 57th claws its way through the woods.

Battery is contacted and fails its evasion test.  Knocked out!

French Legere advance up through the woods on the right.  They'll contact more Austrians than they had hoped for!

Saint Hilaire victorious so far!  From the roads and all points west, they have driven the enemy back!

Saint Hilaire has reason to be happy - for the moment.

 At this point, all of the French attacks have mostly gone off as expected.  My mistakenly overstrength Austrian units give ground grudgingly but have been in the retreat however it has been taking its toll on STH's units who are all now dangerously close to breaking and the reinforcements from Gudin's Division and Friant's Division are nowhere in sight.  Speaking of reinforcements, here is what I came up with:

The FPGA turns on the left - and the historical arrival times of units on the right 
 It's now early afternoon.  The men of Saint Hilaire's Division are tired but so far victorious.  There are rumors that both Friant and Gudin are on the field although no one has seen them.  The Austrians are almost everywhere in retreat.

The left ridgeline is held by French troops.  The right is held by Austrian troops.

reinforcements have arrived!
 To Davout's horror, Gudin's men arrive on the field, not where he told them to flank march to, but close to Teugen on the french side of the ridge.  (I rolled for this action.  Davout wanted them to flank Hausen and show up in the Austrian's flank but since I'm gaming solo, I had the dice gods make the call) 

Additionally, they are halted and not moving.  (they rolled "HOLD" on their control test 3 pulses in a row!).  Friant arrives.  And also rolls HOLD on his control test.  Sacre Bleu!

Legere assaults a fresh brigade from Lusignan's Division, who rolled ATTACK on their control test and MUST advance towards the enemy.  They find themselves on the ridge now and in perfect position to counterattack the French who are ready to break.
What happens next is beyond belief but I'll write it anyways.  Lusignan's Division of 2 modest Austrian Brigades, launches an assault that would probably have taken them to the outskirts of Paris if the game didn't end.  I'll explain.  With Saint Hilaire's units in rough shape, Lusignan launches his 2 fresh brigades against the weaker French ones and destroys the Legere on the right side of the road.

Luck finally falls on the Austrians, who steal the initiative away from the French for the next pulse.  Lusignan rolls ATTACK once again on his control test, sending his brigades against the lead elements of Saint Hilaire's division who are emerging on the road from the forest.  They slam into the flank of the lead brigade and destroy it.  Next pulse they slam into the 57th Ligne's front and break it as well, sealing the fate of Saint Hilaire's Division and pushing the French over to their Army breakpoint of 5 units.  They will have to test every turn now to end the game.

2 lead French Brigades would be next to be broken by Lusignan's wild counterattack

Lusignan urging his men forward in the fighting.  He bestows a bonus dice onto the fighting at risk to himself (you have to roll for command casualties when commanders are involved in fights)

Vukassovich and his staff were in the middle of some of the worst fighting during the day and he was displaced and almost killed no fewer than 5 times!  Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time!

The Austrians roll well on their control tests and stabilize the line.  With the left side of the road secured, they form a line to deal with French attacks they know are coming.  The French likely will not meet their victory conditions in time but you never know.  There may be up to 4 pulses in a turn!  Many things can happen.

St Julien's division coming up to guard the Austrian left (your right in the pic) against Friant's Division who finally moves.

Vukassovich's men join the counter attack!  The Austrians know the key is to fight the french on the ridgeline and not let them onto open ground.

Gudin's men finally shake out to attack.  They'd assault the woods with elan before the whole attack is called off.  The Army is retreating?

Gudin's men shake out finally to assault the ridgeline.  Had they passed SOME of their control tests, we may not have been in this pickle...

Austrians throw everything at the French to keep them bottled up in the woods.

Friant doffs his hat to Lusignan while his men launch their assault.
 Half of Lusignan's Division falls back while the other half remains solid and holds.  The turn ends abruptly and the French have failed their break test.  The game ends.

The overall operational picture.  Solid walls of Austrians on both sides of the road.

Final dispositions on the left.

Final dispositions on the right.

Wow.  A meatgrinder and a few things come to mind.  Namely, the Austrians in the avant garde were much too powerful.  Not only were there 3 brigades of lights but they brought 21 strength points to bear against the division, which isn't right considering a SP is a very large collection of troops.  Saint Hilaire's units should have made better progress than they did fighting against full brigades.  The Ehrerzog Karl Legion troops should not have been brigades, they should have been consolidated into a single, smaller unit.  Additionally, Saint Hilaire's Division should have been more lethal in the attack to demonstrate their elite morale.

I really liked the grinding nature of the battle, and I really liked the feeling that I needed my troops to move and I was constantly asking why they were not moving.  On the other hand, I'm not sure i liked that my troops could move against orders.  I had wanted St Julien's men to stay behind the creek as they did historically. 

Also, although Lusignan's Division was extremely powerful in the attack, they were not ordered to attack!  I merely wanted them to reinforce Vukassovich on the ridge.

This battle was a ton of fun and I will likely play FPGA again.  I'm not sure it's my "go-to" set of rules for grand tactical napoleonics so the search continues!  I would like to play this again with an "off the shelf" scenario to see if it plays any differently.  i know "Deep Fried Happy Mice" has a bunch of Grande Armee scenarios.  [click] 

 Grab your map and looking glass - there is  more Grand Tactical Napoleonics coming this weekend for the would-be generals out there!