Saturday, October 29, 2016

Vistula Lancers

"Za Polskę!"
After recently reading the last instalment in the Goldsworthy series of novels which our hero is involved in the Battle of Albuera, I decided it was time to finally get my Vistula Lancers painted using the lovely, if intimidatingly detailed, Zvezda Polish Guard Lancers.

The fact that all the horses are sporting swallow tailed shabraques, rather than the sheepskin ones my sources commonly showed, means that I was painting a little blind. I found one which showed the officer's shabraque trimmed in silver, so extrapolating from that, I painted the other ranks' shabraque trimming white. I'm worried that it should actually be yellow, but it's too late now!

These have taken a long time to finish what with life being very busy at the moment, but I wanted them to be ready for tomorrow. They'll be part of my French division which will be gracing the Austerlitz table at Tim's all-in bash. It's not actually the Austerlitz battle (which will take place on the first weekend of 2017), just a chance to use our favourite 1500 point force on a wide, expansive table. I'm hoping for some Albuera-style glory from these boys!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hot Knives Through Warm Butter

Для Бога и Царя!
I'm in danger of falling behind with my battle reports again! What with La Petite Rosbif #1 preparing for VCE (year 12) exams and having to attend graduation ceremonies etc. on top of the usual pressures of the rat-race, things are all at sixes and sevens here at Le Château de Rosbif! 

Darren organised an 1805 practice match at the last Saturday club meeting. I borrowed some of Tim's Russian troops to familiarise myself with them. I want to be able to come to grips with their strengths and weaknesses (mainly weaknesses, it seems!) before the big game in January.

The Russian force consisted mainly of Bagration's command at Austerlitz (plus a little bit more to accommodate all players). The French were from Lannes' command IIRC, which makes sense as the two forces faced off against each other on the real battlefield.

Darren, Jim and myself (assisted by Geoff who took command of the Russian light cavalry division) faced Andrew B. and Garry. The plan was to hold the high ground and allow the French to attack. Hopefully the fact that the French were numerically inferior would allow the Russians to absorb the attack and eventually launch a counter-attack. Darren took overall command and issued the defensive order to all the Russian commanders. Darren on the left, and Geoff and me in the centre were to hold the line and launch limited counter-attacks where the opportunity presented. The job of launching the major counter-attack rested with Jim on the right flank in the most open ground, that is if he could weather the French assault.

With our left flank more or less secure with some impassable terrain, from which Darren could launch local counter-attacks, the line was anchored in the centre with a built-up-area (BUA) which I had responsibility for holding. To the right of the BUA Geoff lurked with his light cavalry, ready to pounce on any French mistakes. 

All good then;
Infantry? Check!
Artillery? Check!
Cavalry? Check!
Plan? Check!

What could go wrong?

Well, how about having some of the best troops Napoleon commanded facing you, commanded by a couple of the wiliest players in the club?

Things started out well with my battalion (pop-)guns engaging Andrew's horse gun battery after it had unlimbered and fired on my troops. His guns missed while mine knocked one of his guns out of action! Score!

Things went downhill from there, though. In a classic combined arms attack, Andrew got Darren and I to form square with his threatening carabiniers. Once safely en-squared, Andrew followed up with his infantry smashing both of our squares. Luckily, mine only suffered a retreat, not a break, but Darren's didn't fare so well.

However, Andrew hadn't been able to punch through and follow up with reserves. For a while he was stuck in a dangerous position with Darren threatening his flank, but unable to push on through. His troops were of a quality that meant we couldn't take him head on, but Darren was able to put his cossacks and grenadiers in a threatening position on Andrew's flank.

Meanwhile Garry was positioning himself to launch an attack on Jim's forces. They had a cavalry stoush which ended in the French favour, chasing Jim's dragoons off the table. Geoff got himself in a position to really cramp Garry's style and launched what could have been a devastating charge at Garry's dragoons who had no line of sight and would have been caught unawares. Note the word "could" in that last sentence; after all that careful planning, Geoff rolled the worst he could have and ended up by not charging home. The Russian hussars halted at 2" with disorders! Stuck out in no-man's land ripe for the counter-attack, they were ignominiously bundled back behind the Russian lines by the dragoons they'd almost eaten for breakfast. Andrew's carabiniers joined in the fun, too, putting more Russian cavalry to flight. 

Andrew found he was in too deep to be able to support his successes, so recalled his infantry. He left a carabinier unit out in front to cover this retreat. Geoff had the perfect line to extract a little payback with one of his remaining hussar units. Its line of approach allowed it to come inside Andrew's charge arc, meaning the carabiniers would have no option but to receive the charge without being able to respond! Huzzah!

Well, ordinarily it would have been 'Goodnight Irene' for any cavalry caught out like that, but being carabiniers, they just rode the bump as if they'd been kicked in the ankle by a pygmy!

Garry then attacked Jim's position in a series of well calculated and supported actions which cut through our main counter-attacking force, snuffing our any chance of holding our position, let alone counter-attacking. The writing was well and truly on the wall when Andrew evicted me from the BUA in the centre, which I'd managed to hold for the rest of the game.

The lessons I took away from that game is that Russian infantry are best in defence (preferably behind fortifications) and in depth. Russian cavalry are good, but against superior enemies (and unlucky dice!) need to be handled carefully.

Thanks to Darren for organising the game and providing many of the troops, and thanks to Tim for trusting me with his troops (I didn't lose too many; they only retreated, rather than routed, after all!).

The Russian defensive line on the heights

The French advance on the flat.

Part of Geoff's light cavalry reserve in the centre.

Darren fans his troops out into line.

His cossacks lurk in the woods...

..led by an impressive looking Hetman!

Garry's dragoons

Andrew's carabiniers.


Darren's Pavlovsk Grenadiers

Massed in reserve

Here comes Andrew's all-arms attack; cavalry, artillery and infantry. The Russian unit in foreground has already squared up.

Andrew's horse guns unlimber and fire, missing everything.

The battalion guns return fire, knocking out one French gun!

Carabiniers charge Darren's infantry, who manage to scramble into square in time...

...only to be attacked by infantry columns!
Fortunately, Darren's shooting was accurate and Andrew's pre-melee was rotten, causing the French attack to fail. This time.

Darren's secure flank.
The promontory is impassable, but allows him to give flank fire on any French advance

My anchored line is peppered by French artillery, the square suffering special attention.

Geoff's light cavalry lurking for any opportunity.

But Andrew's carabiniers have other ideas!

Darren's grenadier battalion stoically stands in square...

...while the Pavlovsky Grenadiers enter the fray. 

Andrew piles on the pressure...

...but Darren outflanks his advances from the impassable promontory and pours in a flank fire on the nearest French column.

Andrew launches an attack on my anchored line, first taking care of the square...

..then following up with a charge on the attached line.

With a pre-melee roll like that, what do you think happened next?

That's right; run away and disorder all the rear supports while you're at it!

Andrew and Darren come to grips again.

Geoff's brilliantly planned hussar charge goes in with such disappointing results!

In a real fog-of-war moment, I moved a jaeger battalion into Andrew's flank, but forgot the essential part of the maneuver:firing! D'oh! 

Never mind; Darren was more on the ball!
Fires into his flank and causing casualties, but still he stands!
Darren's cossacks mill about, threatening but not confident to launch a charge.

One of Geoff's hussar units angles its face to threaten the flank of Andrew's infantry from behind the BUA.

Darren's grenadiers rally, escorted by the general.

Andrew issues the recall order as I reorder my troops.

Beep! Beep! Beep!
The sound of the French juggernaut reversing.

Some Russian hussars racing to the rear...

...after having a good seeing-to by the carabiniers, who carry on into the reserve!

Russian horse gun batteries scatter!

Out comes Gary's dragoons... contribute to the mayhem!

Geoff's other brilliant charge goes inside the carabiniers' charge arc, to underwhelming result!

Darren follows up with a shot into the carabiniers' flank to which they respond with a Gallic shrug.

Garry's unstoppable charge slices through Jim's infantry. The beginning of the end!
The Russian view of the same charge.
The charge continues as Garry goes BATTLEMAD!


When you're on a good thing, stick to it! Another 2 column charge kicks the rotten door in and the whole rotten edifice caves in!

Andrew begins his advance in support of Garry's assault on the Russian right, soon to assault the BUA

From the opposite end of the table, Jim's view of Garry's disemboweling move.

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