Simple Wargaming - "Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells"
Admittedly I'm running a little late in my posting as this game was played last weekend. A weekend that featured a gaming double header with mutliple "simple" wargames including another game of my "Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells" Grand Tactical Horse & Musket game, and a game of Worthington Publishing's "Hold the Line" American Revolutionary war board game but played with my 15mm AWI minis. (Hold the Line) will be another post, as this one is all about addressing "the questions" for "Eagles..."
Scenario 2 - Pitched Battle!
The battlefield. The Prussians must capture the hill and hold the crossroads.
Tough looking troops! The Austrians have dedicated 2 infantry regiments and a battery of guns to hold the hill.
Prussian infantry ready to advance!
It's important to note that I played this with my single-based Seven Years War 10mm forces and NOT Napoleonics (which Eagles was originally made for). I thought it was a nice time to show off the single based units since I've been talking up the concept so much lately.
There were 3 easy-peasy mods used - infantry were "sluggish" meaning no pre-move turn. All turns had to be completed at the end of movement. Also the Prussians got their volley fire rule, meaning if they were ordered, they fired with an extra die. The Austrians were "resolute" meaning if they were assaulted and retained an order, they could use it in the assault combat.
This is a "set piece" engagement with multiple objectives - the hill and the crossroads. Winner holds both by the end of turn 15. The Austrians (red player) hold the initiative.
The Prussian Battery and a single Regiment hold the crossroads - meanwhile the Prussian Dragoons ride out to meet the Austrian Dragoons!
The Prussians start the battle leaving their artillery battery which can range the table, and an infantry regiment to guard the crossroads. They set out with 3 infantry regiments to assault the hill.
Similarly, the Austrians set a detachment aside to capture the crossroads consisting of 2 x infantry regiments and their cavalry (dragoons). Both sides rolled the same amount of units:
4 infantry regiments, 1 dragoon squadron, 1 artillery battery.
Both sides score low for orders initially with the Prussians outscoring the Austrians and moving their infantry up to the hill on a march order. The cavalry will meet in the middle and do what cavalry does - charge!
The Prussian Cavalry riding to meet the Austrian cavalry!
The Prussians are starting to regret leaving a token detachment at the crossroads as 2 Austrian regiments bear down on them. Meanwhile, the hill confers cover for the defenders (Austrians) and Prussian fire is 1 less D6 effective. One of the Austrian volleys against the Prussians scores 3 out of 3 possible hits, leaving the Prussians "disorganized" (yellow die).
The yellow die on the left Prussian regiment denotes a "disorganized" regiment that has taken serious casualties. in this case 3 hits in a 3D6 volley - ouch! They will fire with 1 less D6 for the rest of the game.
Blue dice are orders. Note the unit with the commander does not have an orders die as the commander confers a free order.
The Prussian Dragoons are charged by the Austrian Dragoons. Since the Prussians are "ordered" they can countercharge - which they do to good effect. The combat is so violent that both sides are gobbled up in the ensuing cavalry battle.
Dragoon vrs Dragoon combat on turn 4. Note the significantly reduced strength of the Prussians assaulting the hill.
Austrians are bearing down on the defenders of the crossroads now!
A valiant defense at the crossroads but the Austrians eventually gain the upper hand.
After some fool hardy assaults, the Prussians smarten up and use volley fire to soften up the Austrians. Their volley fire rule will help by allowing them to negate the Austrian cover advantage on the hill. Meanwhile a knife fight is going on further south as the Austrians assault, fall back, rally, and assault again. The Prussians are holding on by a finger nail.
This reaches an incredible climax when the Austrians, with the initiative, attempt to rally from 6 hits (one more and they're toast), and fail their rally attempt. The Prussian battery has retained an order and so can fire. They do so and EVERY SHOT MISSES. This was probably a defining moment of the game as the Austrians moved in to assault the crossroads and the battery next turn. Once the Austrians seized the crossroads, victory for the Prussians became impossible.
OKay onto the Simplicity Questions!
How Long did the game take to play?
1 hour and 26 minutes due to the fact that there were only 6 units on a side. More would have been outstanding. Eagles takes a bit longer than OHW due to the orders and initiative phases - which are both instrumental to the game. I have a full complement of medium and heavy cavalry, as well as elite infantry units with plenty more on the painting table. my aim is to fight a mid-sized battle like Lobositz or Prague with EAGLES and see how that goes.
What was the scenario?
Scenario #2 Pitched Battle from One Hour Wargames.
Prussians assaulted the hill. Austrians assaulted the crossroads. The Prussians got the worst of things and should have left more forces to guard their rear area.
There were many.
The Prussian battery firing a bombardment at close range and hitting absolutely nothing was shocking and opened the door for an Austrian regiment to assault. Again it was fun watching the steam go out of the Prussians almost entirely at this point. They lost a Regiment next turn as well at the crossroads. INteresting how the timing and a few casual decisions made in the beginning of the game regarding the rear-guard at the crossroads sealed the fate of one side completely! I love this stuff!
The Austrian Dragoons charged the Prussian Dragoons. The Prussian Dragoons were "ordered" but did not have the initiative and so when charged, they used their order to "counter charge" the Austrian Dragoons. Both sides then got the extra d6 for "cavalry charging" and both Regiments were destroyed after this round of melee!
The Austrian volley from the hill early-on which disorganized the Prussian Regiment (3 hits - yellow die and a permanent -1 firing dice) was tough to cope with as the Prussians, who needed solid volleys to dislodge their Austrian rivals.
The Prussians literally had the initiative for a single turn - 1 in 15 times! It just wasn't a good day for the men in the blue coats but this is war. In EAGLES, one side will start with initiative. It can only be "stolen" away winning a dice off by 2 at the start of the turn but AFTER you place your orders. This gambling aspect of the game is fun and makes a difference where you place your orders. The Austrians kept the initiative for the entire battle which has literally never happened in a game of EAGLES before.
Who Won? Why?
I briefly discussed this but besides some bad luck, the Prussians made a few bad decisions, including launching numerous foolhardy infantry charges into assault combat against a defender with clear terrain advantage. This caused a singificant degradation in combat power and ranged fire would have been incredibly more effective. Also worth mentioning another departure from the Napoleonic game - no skirmish fire. So the 18th century linear formations must get up close and personal. Here is where the Prussian additional volley die would have helped - shooting against the defenders on teh hill would have been -1D6, however the Prussians could have negated this with their volley fire rule.
Did You Enjoy the Game?
Yes very much so. The EAGLES rules for SYW really capture the flavor of a pitched horse and musket battle and the movement restrictions make planning a much more essential ingredient for the general. I also loved showing off my single-unit bases and like the "feel" of them in combat, especially for a grand-tactical game like this.
HOw many consultations occurred with the rules?
quite a few, actually. I had to look up a few things regarding firing arc, movement, and assault combat (artillery bombards at 3+ in regular Eagles (SYW modified to 4+ for bombardments) but defends itself in melee at 5+. I had to confirm this).
It's also worth mentioning here that for the first few turns, I forgot it costs 2 orders to order a unit that is within 1 basewidth of the enemy. The idea being that these units are decisively engaged and extricating them or making them do things is much harder. I started doing this at turn 8 again and it made the game tougher on the Prussians, not the Austrians.
Details and Chrome that's Missing (In my humble opinion)
As Erik pointed out in his Napoleonic Friedland 1807 game, EAGLES has some restrictive movement rules that can cause traffic jams and it's hard to get a unit out of trouble. He suggested taking a look at how Blucher handles this and I am in the process of doing just that!
While EAGLES was made for Napoleonics (think games like Volley and Bayonet, Blucher, and Grande Armee) the slight modifications make it perfect for the more stately, slow nature of battle from the 18th Century.
Artillery has a slightly reduced effectiveness, and infantry units are not nearly as flexible. All of these changes were super easy to implement and I loved the effect they produced. I've been doing much thinking about an AWI variant of EAGLES which will have some departures from the game now but will still retain the excitement of the base game. Stay tuned for a "Hold the Line" simple wargame report soon! I also must write up another battle report of Norm's "Tigers at Minsk" but played on my old Squad Leader board with Squad Leader counters - let me tell you that was a match made in heaven with the OP FIRE markers and "Broke" squads on the back side of the counters it really lent itself nicely to TaM play - but it's still not my 15mm minis :)
I hope everyone has had a great week. I'm ready for some more outstanding simple gaming this weekend!