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!


  1. Looks very nice, impressive mass effect!

  2. Great report! In my similar quest for Napoleonic rules I've found Grande Armee too, and I like them a lot! Fast Play Grande Armee doesn't seem to me so "fast" in respect to the original game and has some changes from it that I don't really like, but I love how both games treat the skirmish rules and the fact volley fire is integrated in close combat (given the scale). I'm thinking about using GA, with simplified movement rules Neil Thomas-style and combat where modifiers are more/less dice as in Blucher and FPGA. It should make it faster too. Regarding your rules question on Command, you have to roll for each force each pulse. In theory, there are no "corps units", every unit is under the command of a subordinate commander - not sure if under FPGA you can detach a general/ADC as in GA.

    1. Thank you for commenting Lorenzo! I have not played Grande Armee (i sold it at a convention for 10 dollars!) Now i wish i had not sold it. I like the epic scope of it. Your observations on units firing were the same as some of our recent discussions here about "grand tactical" napoleonic games and what makes them truly grand tactical. What were the things you did not like about FPGA? Just curious. You are correct it's not quite so fast. The units are much more generic. Grande Armee looks much more detailed.

      I didnt like that my units who historically remained behind the creek at Hausen moved up to attack without my orders!

    2. Well, in FPGA (in respect to GA) actually there are things that I like, things I don't like and things I'm still undecided about, so I'll probably go with a mixture... of course everything that follows is just personal taste and opinion!

      What I like: getting rid of the training rating for units (used for rallying, I feel they rallied too much and the dynamic anyway takes time), units can be differentiated with a more careful rating for the SPs only. I also like The use of +dice - dice for combat modifiers, the fixed movement rate for normal moves. I also like artillery being just divided into Heavy and Light, as too much distinction at this scale may be too much.

      What I don't like: the command rules. I prefer GA, where you receive a number of CPs each turn, have to distribute (or save) them across units each impulse, with more CPs needed for worse and/or far away leaders, and leaders who don't receive CPs first roll for initiative, then if failed they roll to see if they stay firm, adjust position or attack. In FPGA it looks to me they follow orders too rarely and act too erratically from impulse to impulse. I feel this is FPGA greatest drawback... maybe using FGPA with GA's command rules may be an option? Possibly, I'll think about it...

      Undecided: the skirmish fire rules. I like the GA rules more, and I don't feel the FPGA ones speed things up much. Overall I see the move Sam made from GA to FPGA to Blucher here, but I'm not so sure it's worth it.

      Things I don't like in either: movement rates for infantry are a bit too much for me, but that may depend on the table I have, so I generally modify them a bit. Also the 6" rule for friction, I prefer to keep just the restriction to move either ahead or backwards (or turn) as in Blucher but not the roll to see if they act erratically. It looks to me a slowing down process that isn't really necessary. I also don't like the close combat to-hit numbers, Blucher has a more streamlined approach that I like best

      Probably I'll amend and see what works best for me... so many good things and so many not-so-good things, I need to playtest more!

    3. I am in total agreement with you. I don't like that my units act outside my wishes. What if you were anchoring a vital defense and the enemy was within 20" from your position? You could roll high on a control test and leave the defenses??? That makes no sense.

      I can easily see where Blucher comes from after reading FPGA. It's a natural evolution and much more streamlined than FPGA. It's also not as structured.

      You might want to take a look at our EAGLES CHEAPER THAN BRAINCELLS rules (the link on the right or go here:

      They do, right now, have unit firing (skirmish fire is 1D6 at 2 BW or 3D6 within 1 BW) but that is easily removed in favor of assault combat which should seem familiar because it's much like Blucher and FPGA (roll your current SP).

      The only thing I want to improve upon in them is there is no incentive for units to advance or defend "together" so you don't have the linear look or feel yet. But I have some ideas to rectify.

      Alex wrote these based on our mutual ideas during playstesting. They are a "grand tactical" take on Neil Thomas' 1 Hour Wargames Horse and Musket rules. Check them out!

    4. Thanks Steve, I' think I'll try them out for 7YW at least! Regarding my amendments on Grande Armee, you can find them summarized here:

  3. A nice action and write up. Teugen-Hausen was no easy fight for the French, despite having some of the best troops and leaders in the Army in 1809, but they definitely need some quality advantages to have a reasonable chance of replicating their historical success.

    I like what you've done with your own GT take on Thomas' rules, and hope to give them a try on the tabletop this year.

    1. Cheers, Peter. Teugen Hausen is one of my favorite Napoleonic battles for the excitement , drama and tension it engenders. FPGA "vanilla" units definitely had a hard time getting the job done.

      Let me know when you try Eagles. Im happy to explain anything you'd like to know. I have yet to play them in an "open" game. Ive played them using the 30 scenarios from 1HW however there is no reason why they would not work in open or historical play, IMHO.

  4. I am inclined to give them a try solo first. That would give me a chance to field my Swedes vs my Danes for a fictional action somewhere in the Baltic!