Monday, September 7, 2020

The Battle of Wagram: Day 2 Center - Oudinot's Attack

My buddy Alex was over Sunday night for some Napoleonic gaming goodness with a tiny slice of the Battle of Wagram on the table.  I haven't seen Alex since pre-Covid days and it was good to get a game in with him. 

For the battle, we used a scenario from the Michael Hopper Shako 1809 scenario book (Blood Along the Danube) and literally singled out a 2' by 4' sliver of battle featuring Oudinot's forces under Grandjean assaulting the heights beyond the Russbach and Baumersdorf.  

The entire battlefield to the right - two feet wide and 4 feet long.  The Russbach divides the setup areas and the heights are clearly visible.  Baumersdorf on the French side guards the bridge which Cavalry and Artillery need to cross.

We put the venerable Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells through its paces with another historical matchup, and I also got to use my singly-based Napoleonic 10mm stands, which turned out pretty nice if I do say so myself!

The French, with 12 units, will receive 2D6 orders per turn while the Austrians will receive 1D6+2.  The French have 12 units and the Austrians have only 8.  The French set up beyond a low set of hills awaiting the order to commence the assault.  The Austrians are up on the high ground awaiting the attack.

Red dice are orders for the Austrians.  Blue dice are orders for the French.

Opening the game, Alex pushes all of his artillery atop the hill overlooking the valley and the Austrian positions.  It's literally a perfect spot for the French Artillery to bombard.  He weights his left with the bulk of his infantry, and pushes a Brigade forward to occupy Baumersdorf, which the Austrians have recently evacuated.  

A gorgeous firing position!

The Shako scenario stipulates that the French must have "a unit" on the heights by 1240 hours.  In this instance, we kept the original 15 turn limit and said the French must have a brigade on the upper heights of the field.

The Austrians arrayed along the hills awaiting the French onslaught.  The Austrian gunners are about to open fire on the French who will advance into their shot!

A Brigade of Pendraken French painted by Jack

Almost reached the town!

I love this picture!  French approaching the Russbach while the Austrians look on

Austrian Grenzers fire at the French along the Russbach!

Shelling Baumersdorf!  Note the Austrians on the other side of the Bridge to oppose the crossing

It takes Alex about 3 turns to get into position to launch an assault against the heights from Baumersdorf.  His troops form into assault columns in the shattered village and charge the bridge!

French preparing to assault the heights!
A hardcore French volley Disorders the Grenzers (yellow hit die) who will have to fall back

Note the yellow die on the left-  that's the Grenzers who were forced back by ranged fire.  The French going into turn 5 are in excellent position to launch the assault.

Here they come!  French cross the Russbach in force - voltiguers on the right of picture

As in the actual battle, the French storm the heights but vicious Austrian counterattacks make life tough for them to stay.  A French brigade charges with elan across the bridge and secures a toe-hold on the heights!  They're promptly sent back by the elite Grenadiers of the infantry reserve.

Alex moving his infantry up to assault the hill!

French toe hold on the lower heights

A breakthrough on turn 5!
Turn 6 sees the Austrian grenadier counterattack which eliminates the French breakthrough.  The Grenadiers, supposedly the infantry center reserve, are now holding the line.

Grenadiers counterattacking into the French Breakthrough!

Situation turn 6.  Grenadiers hold the heights and the French were pushed back in heavy fighting.

General Brady moves to straighten out the line - but will he have the orders?  And will the French let him?

Alex has a battery go "out of ammo" by rolling a "1" on their ammo die.  They'll need to spend an order to resupply the guns but Alex is also short on orders now, as units within 1 BW of an enemy require 2 x orders to carry out an action!

left French battery go silent.

Alex's feint in the center has worked so far and his infantry begin to roll up the Austrian right.  Meanwhile, Alex throws in his reserve Dragoons at the Grenadiers, who are ordered.  That means they can use their order die to fire before the melee, or they can use it as an extra combat die in the fighting.  They shoot - and to great effect, scoring 3 disordering hits!  The Dragoons are now -1 die for the rest of the game.

High drama and excitement as the French Dragoons crash into the Austrian Grenadiers!

Warm work in the center as the French also charge the Austrian battery on the heights.  They'd be successful in the combat ( in Eagles, guns always lose melee regardless of hits) but would break themselves carrying the position.  

The ordered Austrian guns fire a deadly volley of grapeshot into the advancing French.  The French win the combat but at a high price!

By turn 8 the battle is shifting to the right of the Austrian positions now as the French try and flank the main hill position.

Alex unleashes a deadly assault against the flank of the Austrians with his infantry reserve, including his elites, denoted by a stand of Carabiniers here and Voltiguers in the foreground.

Baden troops bringing up the rear!

If this doesn't look "napoleonic" I dont know what does.  Infantry gathering to assault the heights!

It's worth mentioning here that we tried out a cool feature Alex has worked into his other rules called the "respite" or a lull in the fighting.  Anytime players tie on an initiative roll, the turn is advanced by 1, and every unit may attempt to rally.  This happened 3 times in this game and while the Austrians didn't make every roll, they rolled critical "6s" where they needed, losing 2 hit points.

Austrian line now oriented towards the right.  Guns were pulled back to the main heights.
by turn 10, it's obvious the Austrians will likely lose.  Alex has fresh brigades to introduce so perhaps the time is right to move the Cavalry up!

Both French batteries go out of ammo now.

Alex assaults the guns and moves his infantry in, securing a lodgement on the greater heights.  A last-minute charge by the Austrian cuirassiers pushes a French Brigade back, but it's too little too late! The French still have a brigade of Dragoons to throw into the fray and my Cuirassier are promptly destroyed! The French hold the heights with a comfortable margin.  Oudinot will receive his Marshall's Baton!

When you return to the Army HQs, tell Charles I really like these rules and must insist upon them for the next battle!

All told this game took about 3 and a half hours to complete - perfect for an evening's game.  I feel as if the battle demonstrated the versatility of the "Eagles" rules with lots of cool features to keep the game interesting like the switching initiatives, batteries running out of ammo, and bonus dice for certain combat advantages.  It was nice to play a grinding, attritional slugfest like Wagram where fancy maneuvers and battlefield trickery give way to courage, valor, and ignoring the sickening feeling in your stomach as the assault goes in under shot and shell!

In Eagles, Maneuver and movement is very loose, allowing for sweeping maneuvers that you would expect on a Napoleonic battlefield.  Shooting keeps the game moving and both Alex and I were musing that the rules would be perfect for a big battle, and with the single based units there is no fiddling with bases or formations.

Also the turn sequence is such that you can pick the order of your actions, bombarding the enemy with artillery and softening him up before going in with your infantry, and then cleaning up with Cavalry.

I am very much looking forward to more games with Eagles, and also taking them into the future.  I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed playing the game and writing about it!

Today is Labor Day in the US, and Ken and I were supposed to play Sam Mustafa's "Rommel" but my wife is under the weather and I'm on kid duty.  That gives me more time to prep the forces for next week.  I also am moving forward with the single based Napoleonic units in 10mm - I think they looked incredible on the table and am very pleased with the results.  For now, more AWI painting (1 more unit till DONE!), SYW and Napoleonic 10mm painting, and prep for the Germantown MEGA GAME to be held in December.  I also have some other surprises on the back burner which I've moved to the front burner lately so stay tuned!  Lots of great gaming goodness coming up, including some highlights from the "Simple Wargaming" project.


  1. Lovely account and lovely looking table. Could this be the sweet spot that you might come to favour in terms of the ‘simplicity’ versus the simulation and ‘feel’ equation. I like ‘lull’ tuns appearing in games, though three in a 15 turn game must have had someone pulling their hair out :-). All good, more of this would be good!

    1. Thank you Norm. I think this game has most of what I'm looking for, without taking itself too seriously (as the name implies). It gives a good narrative and "feels" like a battle account.

      The French running out of ammo with both artillery units and subsequently rolling lousy for orders forced Alex to make some tough choices about who to order and his guns remained silent for a few turns. The counterattack with the Austrian grenadier reserve was thrilling to watch them go forward and plug the hole in the line.

      I like the idea of the lull but, if you're the attacker and under pressure to move, it can be frustrating!
      Not to fear we will be playing many more games of Eagles in the coming months.

  2. Indeed a lovely looking game and one full of action. The 10mm single bases look superb and thanks for some great pics of the game.

    1. Thank you very much, Steve! I feel like the 10mm bases are very photogenic.

  3. Steve, this is a really handsome looking table. Yours 10s photograph well. I like the notion of a 'lull' turn too. I have seen similar in a number of games. Too bad about the Rommel game cancellation. hopefully, it can be rescheduled soon.

    1. Thanks Jonathan! Hard to believe we fought a 2 x Division slice of Wagram on a 2 x 4 foot space! It was a very fun game and thanks for your kind comments. Your single based units and support for the idea were inspiring to me to move forward with this project.

      We are going to try to play Rommel next weekend!

  4. Looks incredible!
    Look forward to much more action - and Germantown - excited!
    (Watch that Alex bloke - he's sneaky lol)

  5. Went very smooth and if we hadn't been chatting to catch up a bit after several months I think it'd have been 2-2.5 hours. Looks even better on camera!

    I like that the mechanics worked smoothly to make "historical reality" and that every event could easily be explained in a typical historical narrative. I had great order rolls at start, bad at the middle, and average at the end. But one turn of hot shooting dice helped me break into the Austrian center on the hill and that was it. I played the French, so of course I had to be "sneaky" since I work for the Corsican Ogre.

    Can put a few more concepts in from my medieval rules and it'll be nicely done. Then on to some AmRev tweaks!

    Hope Home 6 is feeling better.

    1. Thanks Alex it was a great game and a very nice time! I liked your recommended changes and am looking forward to playtesting them! AWI here we come!!!
      HH6 is feeling a bit better today.

  6. Oh, I know what’s it’s like when placed on kid duty. Ah kids, best worse things. Hope the wife feels better soon. 😀

    Very nice report. I always enjoyed taking a section of a larger battle and playing it out. Nice looking figures and terrain. Looks like the rules have lodged themselves in your own brain cells. 😀

    1. Thanks Stew, although you'd be surprised to see what was not in my brain cells after only playing a few times per month!

  7. Very fine pictures, one of he more impressive Nappy games I've seen lately in the blog word. Bravo. Tense exciting game.

  8. Sir! Great batreP1. Pics were great and seemed like the rules really worked!

    How big are you bases? If you don’t mind sharing? I assume each is a brigade? I really like the link of you troops!

    I will also need to try a few solo games to give the rules a try. I may have sone questions, if that’s ok?

    Regards! Mike H.

    1. Hi Mike it is absolutely okay if you have questions feel free to ask. Bases in this batrep are 4" by 2" rectangles but I have played with 3" squares like Volley and Bayonet or Grande Armee.

      I am really digging single based units, especially for "big battle" games like this, commands and colors, etc.

      Feel free to reach out with questions.