Monday, April 11, 2011

Russian lesson

My Velites of the Guard got their first outing last Friday, but again it was not the most auspicious beginning for one of my new units (again!).

The setting for this latest debacle was Russia, 1812. I was partnered by Robin with his Minifig French and facing a motley Russian crew of Malcolm, Tim and John W. using Tim's Minifig Russian army. I took the left flank, which had a couple of light woods and built up areas on the left and on my right flank, in the centre of the table. Robin had a more open field in front in which to battle with John W. That suited me fine as I only had one squadron of hussars, having a very infantry-heavy formation that night. I faced Malcolm,with Tim's reserves in the centre.

Tim had a finely balanced all-arms formation with which he divided amongst the 3 Russian players, and I can tell you, I regretted opting for being light on cavalry from the start! I started by sending everything forward with the aim of tackling the large amount of guns facing me. Luckily they weren't the 12lbers Tim had been promising (Robin has the pleasure of facing them!), but I still faced 2 x 12gun 6lber batteries both of which were protected by dragoon squadrons, just itching to charge any threat to the guns. This effectively blocked the most obvious and clear route between the BUAs and the woods, so I had to find another route. I sent the hussars and the light battalions of the left hand brigade up the edge of the world to seize the BUAs on the left in order to threaten the Russians right flank. Malcolm sent 2 battalions of infantry to try and thwart me, and there developed a merry dance with his troops in square and closed column while I moved up slowly in order to shed the disorders my infantry had gained by moving through the woods. The rest of that brigade stopped just on the cusp of  medium and long artillery range while I decided what to do. Eventually, that turned out to be an anchored line in order to counter the cavalry threat, while maximising my fire effect. The closed columns on either flank were more vulnerable to the artillery fire and started losing casualties, but luckily Malcolm's rolling wasn't that impressive, so I could absorb the damage.

Malcolm put his closed column into the BUA closest to his defensive line, leaving the square to block any advance, so I brought up the 2 legere battalions to charge the BUA with the hussars not quite poised to shield my flank. I brought the hussars as close a s I could to the square, who then shot at the column, wounding the attached general on a throw of 10 on the d10. This didn't really matter, as they weren't the ones charging. What did matter is that Malcolm did the same on the infantry charge, knocking off the general which then stuffed my chances of successfully charging the BUA. My dice rolling alone wasn't enough to get them in the BUA, but the general's bonus would have squeaked me over the line. AAARRRGHH!

My Italian Guards brigade stayed in the centre supporting the artillery and acting as a reserve (much to Malcolm's disgust; he wanted to pick on my new boys!) while the right hand brigade kept moving forward through the woods to the road lined by hedges, where it stopped to try and shed the disorders. Tim moved a battalion in line to the edge of the opposite hedge, ready to guard against an attack from that side. If I charged over the hedges, I'd incur too many disorders for an attack to succeed against a battalion in line, so I decided to skirmish my light battalion to pop at the Russian line. I hoped that I'd be able to add enough disorders on them to make an attack over the hedge a worthwhile option. The plan started off well, with a disorder placed on the line, but after that I couldn't hit the side of a barn, my dice rolling was that bad! Meanwhile, Tim had popped one of his infantry battalions in the BUA closest to my right flank which impeded any lateral movement to threaten his flank, so after my cunning skirmisher plan looked like it was going nowhere, I decided to give the heavy mob a go and sent the Chasseurs and Velites of the Guard to evict the pesky Russians from their BUA. This charge went according to plan and resulted in an overwhelming victory and the easy occupation of the BUA.

Now things went to pot; I fell victim to a general's worst enemies: panic and wishful thinking. Malcolm launched a charge at my guns with one of his dragoon squadrons which careened through the battery unopposed after the crews fled. This cleared the way for the infantry reserve to come trooping out from the back line to advance on my anchored line, which was showing signs of wear as Malcolm's artillery began to find its mark. He also brought forward the front line infantry that had been guarding his guns, in order to protect the reserve's flank. I was determined to get into that flank with my guard grenadiers, then realised that that would offer up my flank to the protecting Russian line. I then moved up 2 columns in sequence to cover my flank, but neglected to think that Tim would launch a charge over the hedges on the roadside, which is exactly what he did! That charge only just succeeded in forcing the top column back, leaving the line with 6 disorders, but that's all he needed; the rest of the columns were then rolled up as the line swung like a gate and smashed into the the 2 remaining columns. The grenadiers may be elite troops but, they couldn't stand up to that sort of treatment!

While I was lining up my columns, preparing my coconut shy for Tim, I also removed both my Guard units from the BUA, thinking that this was the time to get around onto his lank in the centre. My wishful thinking happened here; assuming that John W. was concentrating on Robin and not paying attention to what was happening at the junction of Tim's and his commands. One day I'll know better to stop assuming anything where John's concerned! I should have learned it already, but still don't seem to have. I declared that both guards units were leaving the BUA and forming up in attack column on either side of the BUA. The Chasseurs facing John were then immediately charged in the flank by a battalion lurking with intent for exactly that purpose. POW! another guard unit sent fleeing! The victorious Russians then occupied the BUA I'd just left pointing their muskets at the Velites on the other side waiting for them to do something stupid, which they now did! I declared I'd move them too, but with all the units streaming away in bad morale, the morale test sparked by being fired in the flank caused the Velites to break and run!

Immediately after the game I new that I should have been more patient and fallen back in the face of the reserve attack, rather than try and immediately get in the flank. I should also have left the Chasseurs in the BUA and moved only the Velites on the Russians' blind side. Sould-a, could-a, would-a don't win battles, but hopefully I've learned my lesson now. I'll have to wait till my next battle to see if anything was learned ;-).

The only bright spark left was that Malcolm's reserve attack failed, not once, but twice! Fired on as they charged in, he rolled appallingly and halted 2" from my line. My left-hand closed column which was anchoring the line had been ground down by more than 50% casualties, but passed their morale check time and again. While the hussars charged and held off the advancing infantry which had chased off my legere battalions, the jig was up and I failed the resulting divisional morale test which ended the game.

Robin, meanwhile, had fought a ding-dong battle with John W. on the open right flank with divisional morale tests not once, but 3 times being asked for and passed; flanks a-plenty and lots of charges and counter-charges. His dragoons early on put in a magnificent charge on John's guns and scattered the crew, but in turn were fired in the flank by infantry sent to deal with the threat. His hussars and John's Uhlans clashed several times in the centre of the table, while there was a titanic infantry struggle conducted in the middle of his sector. One moment John had forced Robin back in a series of charges, only to have Robin counter-attack and force John's Russians back. Eventually, Tim gave John a break-off and defend order, that I think went against every instinct John has, but it allowed him to regroup (and to pop me as I came out of my BUA!), and to be in a better position when Robin counter-attacked later in the game.

Robin kindly sent his hussars over to deal with the pesky dragoons who scared off my gun crews, but got whacked in the flank by Malcolm's guns by way of thanks!

Another great game that looked like it would go to the wire, let down by losing my head at the critical moment of the battle! It was late on a Friday night when I'm not exactly thinking at my clearest; that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Hussars covering my left flank
Artillery unlimbers while the left brigade exits the woods
Italian Guards brigade with the right brigade beyond that
Robin's hussars keep a watch on the Uhlans while protecting my rear

Robin's legere brigade
Robin squaring up early in the game
Macolm's dragoons protecting the guns with infantry behind
Tim takes the BUA early on
Guns, guns, guns!
Russians rushin' here, rushin' there (an old gag, but a good one!)
Left brigade en chequier
The right brigade approaches the hedge-lined road by advancing through the woods, while the guards hod the centre
Robin's hussars supporting the guns
Robin's flank showing his dragoons heading off to glory
John's Uhlans on the guns' flank
John's Jaegers advancing up the flank
Robin's dragoons waiting for a target
John's 12 lbers and reserve infantry
Facing Robin's hussars...
...but they charge anyway!
Copping flank fire from the BUA...
...they break for the rear.
On his other flank, the dragoons face unlimbered artillery...
...but charge them...
They take the breakthrough, past the square.
But this battalion shoots into the dragoons' flank...
...causing them to retreat.
The hedge-lined road that stopped me.
My right brigade angling towards Malcolm's guns.
There was just too much cavalry to think about an unsupported infantry attack, though.
Plan B; send out a flanking foray on the extreme left.
Malcolm reacts by sending in a square and closed column.
Meanwhile Robin makes an anchored line to face the cavalry threat.
The left hand square gets blasted, but stands.
John's defensive line
The legere battalion of the right brigade goes into skirmish action.
Robin's legere brigade stuck in closed column in front of John's guns
Closer view
Here comes support.
I feel a charge brewing!
And here it comes! The French column with the flag is charged by the Russian line...
...and is broken...

...but Russians are charged in turn by 3 French battalions...

...even if Robin's luck with the Dice God continues badly...

...who continue the charge into a threatening column.

The legere then charge the line in front of them...
...sending them scattering.
Robin's extreme left battalion of legere continue the charge into the teeth of the guns, but are bloodily repulsed.

My Velites on debut

The 3 line battalions of the left brigade go into l'ordre mixte
I attempted to get my guns closer under cover of the guards, but succeeded only in receiving casualties, so thought the better of it
Chasseurs still in reserve
The scene at the hedge
The skirmish line attempting, ineffectually, to add disorders on Tim's Russian line
The skirmishers closest retire from in front of the guns to a safer distance.
My legere and hussars shape up to take the BUA, while Malcolm's dragoons try to influence proceedings at the rear.
I advance the hussars right up to the square to attempt to cover the impending charge. Malcolm rolls the dreaded 10 knocking the cavalry brigadier out of action!
I've attached the general to the battered battalion before the charge to add some steel to their damaged morale...
...but the general is wounded in the charge, which fails and ends up where it started, with an extra 2 disorder points! GRRRR!
The charge on the other flank, however...
...was a lot more successful
The closed columns anchoring the line suffering under artillery pounding. If the charge on the BUA was successful, these battalions would have been moved to the left in an attempt to exploit the gap on the flank.
Back on Robin's side things are getting messy, with a counter-charge pushing his previously successful regiment into flight.
The line is breached!
The dragoons are forced from the field again.
Robin's legere troops in all sorts of bother with Russians on both flanks...
...but help is at hand! Robin gets in on the Russians' flank too!
Mexican standoff!
Panorama of the battlefield just before everything turned to poo
Malcolm's dragoons go in and my gunners flee!

The reserves steam in while the line forms on their flank to guard against exactly what I did next!
On the other flank, I move my Chasseurs precipitately and suffer the consequnces!
My Velites now hung out to dry
One of my legere battalions caught in the flank in the middle of maneuvering break and run

Robin's hussars provide temporary relief...

...before regretting it!

Malcolm's big attack sputters to a halt 2" from my line offering another big juicy target...

...but my column is getting more and more fragile! Hussars are charging left front.
The straw that broke the camel's back: all the other battalions in this area have been vapourised, while this one is about to meet the same fate, sparking the divisional morale test that ends the game.


  1. Fun report! Newly-painted unit syndrome strikes again, I see. I'm sure they will do much better on their next outing.

    Nice to see classic Minifigs in action again. My very first metal Napoleonic miniatures were from Minifigs, and I have always had a soft spot for them.

  2. Congratulations on your latest battle report. You have brought last Friday's game back to life in a most entertaining way. I must admit issuing John with the break off to force him to defend provided some additional entertainment.

  3. Cracking read Rosbif filled with loads of eye candy! always good to get new troops on the table (if only to get that dreaded 1st battering out the way!). Did you guys make the Saxon style buildings or did you buy them?

  4. Hi

    Great post and pics. I too very interested in the source of your buildings ?


  5. Fantastic batrep, great photo's too. Shame about the new unit death syndrome though??

  6. Thanks for the kind words, all. You're all correct: I don't think the way I played had anything to do with the result; it's purely the fault of having a new unit on the board! ;-)

    @Robert - Glad to see you in the blogosphere again. Hope this means things are beginning to return to semi-normality after all the shaking in Japan and the worries re. family.

    @Tim - You're a cruel man, but you know your comrades' personalities so well! ;-)

    @Paul & Sgt. Steiner - All scenery was courtesy of Tim and I think that his buildings are all SHQ 15mm stuff. If you read this Tim can you confirm? Otherwise, I'll drop him a line to see if I'm right.

  7. The buildings are a mixture of 15mm from three sources.
    Eureka Miniatures in Australia. (with chimney)
    JR models (no chimney)
    Monday Knight Productions in the US (also with chimney)
    I hope this helps

  8. What a great battle report and excellent pictures.


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