Was able to retire to the gaming bunker Friday evening to finish this solo game of Elchingen with Mr Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming" book. You can read the first game here. When we last left off, both reinforcement columns were converging from opposite ends of the battlefield. The French were hammering away at Unter-Elchingen and the Austrians were causing much trouble at the bridgehead.
|Heavy urban fighting in Unter Elchingen as the French are just about ready to kick the former tenants out.|
|Meanwhile the French columns from the reinforcing division reach the heights and engage the defending Austrians along the road!|
|With the cavalry clash on the French right now going well, Ney throws in light cavalry against the battle-hardened Cuirassiers. It ends predictably with the lights being thrown back. Still, though, they gave the horse and foot batteries time to "get out of dodge!" A literally perfect mission for light cavalry. A screening force.|
|Meanwhile down on the plain next to the Danube, Ney personally rallies the French Regiments and organizes as defense against marauding Austrian columns. THe cotton smoke is there to remind me they need morale checks at the end of the turn (taking 4 hits - losing a MC would instantly make them take a "Stand Loss" or 4 more hits)|
|The French attempting to turn the Austrian defense on the heights. Note the 2 assault columns in the valley. Remember them. They're conscript infantry (foreign regiments) so I wasn't expecting much from them.|
Personally, I'm thinking - "this is it. These rules heavily favor a defender and I'm not sure Ney is going to be able to pull this off". Still - I stuck with the plan. Turns out, fresh reserves at a critical moment are the key to success. Read on.
|Austrian reinforcements move onto the table|
|Technically the pic is out of order. THe death ride of the French Dragoons. These Austrian heavy horse just didn't want to die!|
|The moment at which the lights (in blue) will charge in front of the guns to protect them from the Cuirassiers. |
|Put your reading glasses on for this picture. French seize Unter Elchingen. The retreat rules, hard in NT's Napoleonic Wargaming, destroy them since their retreat is blocked. Again note those 2 x conscript French assault columns to the left. The "elite" Legere is bottom left. They wouldn't even see combat today!|
Seeing the mass of men and equipment approaching Ober Elchingen, Ney knows his time is now. He orders all available, fresh units to converge on Ober Elchingen, including the conscripts...
|Jumbled, confused mass of units around Unter Elchingen on the left with units racing towards the crossroads of Ober Elchingen in the center. The Austrian reinforcements are weaving their way into the carnage of the fighting which will prove deadly for them with the NT retreat rules.|
|Austrian reinforcements moving into the area around teh Abbey and Ober Elchingen.|
|New has one regiment remaining in the valley!|
|The French conscripts surge up the hill and assault Ober Elchingen! The Austrian units defending ram straight into their advancing reinforcements and melt away into chaos in the face of the advancing French.|
|Nowhere to retreat to! Otherwise strong units literally evaporate.|
|Meanwhile the conscript infantry make a direct assault against Ober Elchingen!|
|Note the column behind them moving laterally. Another Austrian regiment doomed due to bad staffwork!|
|French conscript assault against Ober Elchingen. The heroes of the battle!|
|French reinforcing artillery who escaped the Austrian Hohenzollern Cuirassiers due to the Light Cavalry sacrificing itself now form a grand battery on the plain by the Danube and start taking a heavy toll on the Austrian regiments there. Ney's rear guard is saved!|
|New masters of Elchingen! Ney's honor is maintained!|
So that's it. After looking for a good rules set to portray this hard-fought action, I'm glad I settled on Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming". Most rules on the shelf haven't been played in awhile and unlike more complex sets, these can practically be played from memory after a few turns, and always give a sharp but clean action.
In retrospect, the Austrian reinforcements screwed everything up and the division intermingling itself into the fight probably doomed the Austrians to lose it as their "Fresh" regiments evaporated after losing a single round of melee. Food for thought. The Austrians did not lack for combat power or capabilities. On the other hand, the French made the right call to assault Unter Elchingen first but probably could have left the bridgehead behind instead of wasting 2 x Regiments to guard it. Those units were sorely needed in the Ober Elchingen assault.
Some noteworthy actions were the use of artillery to "soften up" the Unter Elchingen defenders, and the use of cavalry to screen the artillery's withdrawal. Not having done that, I would certainly have lost a battery to marauding Austrian cavalry. So for those of you who were rooting for Ney fear not, he maintains his title as "the Duke of Elchingen."
All in all, this was a great game and much fun to get a big Napoleonic action on the table, one of my biggest games in awhile. I think it shows the versatility of these rules to fight historical battles, having given a perfectly plausible historical result along with a great narrative. I'll play a bigger battle with them, and am tempted to return to the Peninsula, maybe after the next project is completed. Here's a hint
at the next project and series of games.