Alex was over last night to premier his outstanding "Kepi and Pickelhaube" rules which are his take on the Neil Thomas 19th Century Wargaming rules and he brought with him some outstanding borrowed 15mm Franco-Prussian figures to take the rules for a test-drive. WOW is all I have to say!
We played with the equivalent of a Corps per side with all the toys - Cavalry, Artillery, and of course the Infantry - the Queen of Battle. Admittedly this is the first time I've ever played the NT 19th Century rules, and also the first time I've ever played a FP War game - so I had almost no pre-conceived notions about this game or the period. I can tell you, however, if you're like me and your thoughts about the FP War are: "Napoleonics with longer-ranges,"
|2 companies of Bavarian skirmishers lead the way. All of my troops are in column in order to move. In these rules, you may not move in line unless you're a skirmisher unit.|
I will say it is always a great thing when you can walk away from a game and feel like you learned something. I learned a ton from last night's battle. To set the stage, both the French and Prussians are trying to control 3 of 4 objectives on the table. 3 villages and the hilltop in the center.
|General Von Oberdorf|
My deployment sees my Cavalry weight my left flank, across from Alex's Cavalry. I have 2 x strong, combined arms groupings (brigades or small divisions) with infantry, artillery and cavalry. Your infantry are very potent and powerful, shooting with 2 x dice per stand! But they are rather immobile once the shooting starts. My plan is to actually avoid the center hill objective but demonstrate against it, and shoot for the villages, including the one in Alex's rear area.
|note the small village on top of the hill. I send a detachment to capture it however as fate would have it, Alex captures it first and my troops must take the village by storm!|
I get a rude awakening charging infantry with my Cavalry. The more modern firearms make Cavalry charges against infantry a very risky proposition in this game. Point taken, Mr Thomas!
|Alex's French troops advance!|
on my right, I attempt to force the valley between the 2 hills to get into a position to flank the hill objective, all part of my demonstration. Alex is able to slip his skirmishers into the town on the top of the hill and I send up a battalion of infantry to capture it! Great excitement here!
|Note the infantry column on the right headed towards the town.|
|In my center, I send troops towards the wooded area which will be my jumping off point to mount an assault against the rear village, in French control.|
Alex and I both identify the woods north of the hill as key terrain. Luckily I'm able to grab them and my infantry can advance relatively unscathed for the time being. Alex moves up Guard infantry to guard the exits of the woods and I'm starting to get nervous!
|Moving the Prussians up through the road and into the woods!|
|Prussian Hussars! (actually Napoleonic Austrians, but you get the idea!)|
|In the foreground, note the masses of cavalry galloping towards each other! The small hill there would be the scene of a brutal back and forth action almost the entire evening.|
|Prussian cavalry assaulting the hill to be repulsed with extreme prejudice! Note my infantry going up the slope on the far right as well. Alex turned the hill into a fortress!|
|Prussians back in command in the village on the right. The red bead means a stand lost. "Hans, is this a pig sty?" "Ja Herr Oberst"|
|Firefight! Prussian infantry battalions fire against a French battalion arrayed against them in the valley. |
|The situation in the valley. |
|Note the Prussian columns advancing through the woods on the left. They would double-time it to the edge and move directly to assault the French guards posted there, sending them back. Unbelievable, Alex would only score 1 hit in the pre assault volley.|
|A swirling cavalry battle on the left. |
|Cavalry. My Prussians were gaining some ground but were eventually forces back.|
|Prussians go into the assault after emerging from the woods.|
|The fight against the hill is going Alex's way. I need to keep enough of his forces pinned down for my lighting (blitzkrieg?) assault against the flanks!|
|The French Guards are treated roughly here but they'll have their revenge! Note the "1" on the Prussians. |
|The French retreat and Alex must reorganize a second defensive line here as I have 2 more infantry battalions coming up. My Krupp guns and skirmishers are keeping Alex busy on the hill but truth be told, I needed them in this coming fight on my left. Victory hangs in the balance!|
|I start to lose the Cavalry battle now but both sides' Cavalry are blown by now. Note my infantry columns lower right emerge from the woods. Alex is organizing his second defensive line in front of the town. Plenty of firepower and he sends another infantry battalion from the hill in that direction!|
|Press the attack, boys! Vorwarts!|
|Meanwhile i try to move my units on the right aggressively. Alex moves a unit on the ropes into the woods protecting the flank of the hill. They're easy pickings....or are they? Amazingly they mount a desperate defense and my Prussians are sent retreating!?!? |
|Lots of red beads on my Prussian cavalry, too. The assault in the center must now go in or we will surely lose the day!|
Alex has also deployed the reinforcing infantry into line in front of the town. I'm facing 2 battalions of fresh infantry, 2 batteries of fresh guns, and a big skirmisher detachment, which Alex moves into the town to garrison it. If I can break him from shooting, I'm never going to take the town!
|last picture of my Prussians going in to finish off the unit in the upper right in the woods on turn 7, only to be sent packing! Lots of exciting things like this happened during the game.|
I called the game around 1030pm when it became apparent I was not going to pry my way into the last town. WOW what an exciting game and a very different an unfamiliar period for me. So what did I learn?
First lesson - this is NOT Napoleonics, which I was maneuvering like it was. Infantry units are lethal in the defense. The rules don't even let you attack if you have the same amount of bases.
Second lesson - I did not use my direct-fire artillery properly. Ironic for a former artillery officer but the artillery does not need to keep pace with the advance. They need to find a nice dominant spot to observe and fire at-range. As Alex pointed out, the French rifles shoot 3" further than the Prussian rifles, and so can fire on you for an entire turn before you can turn your rifles on them. Your artillery can be causing casualties all the while your troops are moving into position.
Third lesson - cavalry is much more vulnerable than it used to be especially to infantry fire.
Many thanks to Alex for a great game and a real learning experience. I am looking forward to playing these rules again and also hoping Alex gives the ACW and Napoleonics the same treatment!