I think I much prefer playing French to Spanish!
Last Friday's game at the club saw me and Tim as French take on Garry and Steve's Austrians (well, Tim's Austrians, but commanded by Garry and Steve if you see what I mean!).
It was a lot more fun setting up moves in the knowledge that if anything went wrong, I wouldn't suddenly have the whole army streaming for the rear!
Tim and I had a similar force each, although I went for more artillery then he did, and subsequently less infantry. We both had a brigade of Chasseurs á Cheval each which did some stirling, if expensive, service (more on that anon).
I set up with 3 brigades of 3 infantry battalions each, with the strongest in the centre as a mobile reserve. That was the plan, but they spent most of the game pinned in the centre as a target for Steve's artillery and a block to prevent his massive Uhlan unit doing anything too aggressive.
|My French in their starting blocks|
|Looking down the French line with Tim's command in the background|
|My Italians on their 2nd outing|
|My brave Chasseurs in the centre|
|Steve's Kaiserliks and his wall of Uhlans|
|Tim's forces advance|
|My central brigade's view|
|Steve's first attack heads into the woods|
It quickly became obvious that my flanks were where the action was going to be, so I peeled off the right brigade to head for the BUAs on that flank to deny them to the Austrians.
|My right brigade heads for the BUAs|
|My center and right decide their plan of action. Shortly after this was taken, the Chasseur column took casualties from the artillery and decided to take less of a prominent role for the time being!|
|The first battalion to reach the BUA|
|Pipped the grenzers to the post!|
|Under cover of the line of legere, my line unit enters the 1st BUA|
Steve moved his infantry through the central woods where they copped the brunt of some accurate fire from my foot artillery batteries, forcing them back, deeper into the woods.
|Steve moves back into the woods nursing a bloodied nose|
Steve and I then started disputing the ownership of the BUAs, even though I had occupied the left hand one and was rapidly closing on the right hand one while my legere manfully defended the fenceline. The trump card, however, was my horse battery that moved up on the extreme right of my line, threatening the flank of Steve's grenzers.
|Grenzers vs. Légére. Maybe Steve should have charged?|
|Grenzers fall back followed by French brigade and horse guns|
In the centre, meanwhile, Tim and I had a confab between our commanders with the upshot being that one of my Chasseur regiments would angle itself to threaten Garry's artillery in the hope that he would move or abandon them, allowing Tim's infantry brigades in the centre to advance on Garry's infantry unmolested. One of the Italian-stallion battalions moved up to protect the Chasseurs' flank from any danger that could appear from the woods.
|Chasseurs and Italians wheel to threaten Garry's artillery, while my central brigade holds fast|
|Garry's artillery on the hill is the target for the day|
|Tim's infantry ready to form up after I remove the artillery threat|
|I was a little worried exposing the rear of the cavalry and Italians to Steve's Uhlans, but his size counted against him, plus the fact he was in line. The woods barred him from comfortably taking advantage|
|Meanwhile, I consolidated on the right trying to work out the best way to get into the flank of his Uhlans!|
The woods are a dangerous place, as Red Riding Hood well knows, and this game proved to be no exception! Steve brought out his infantry which had been lurking in there to execute a well aimed blow on the hapless Italians, but by then it was too late as the Chasseurs took off into the Valley of Death, executing the plan to perfection, scaring the Austrian gunners into the infantry square behind them and finishing their charge dangerously close to a horde of angry Austrians!
Tim then did his bit from the other flank, first unsuccessfully trying to force the remaining Austrian battery off with some flank fire from his horse battery, and then committing one of his Chasseur regiments against it when this failed.
This got rid of the guns, but forced the Austrian counterattack with a wall of white cavalry breaking the hapless Chasseurs. Broken eggs and omellettes and all that!
However, that allowed him to move his infantry forward in the centre as planned.
|Tim's guns on the left, shielded by infantry, attempt to knock out the remaining guns|
|Oh well, time for another charge!|
|Tim's cavalry flee and Garry ends up with infantry in front and on the flank, with the remaining chasseurs in front as well.|
|Tim's infantry advance in the center|
|My Chasseurs retire in disorder after being fired on in the flank|
Steve tried an advance of his own after his successful defeat of the single Italian battalion. With a combination of artillery fire and an infantry counter-charge, his attack was stopped in its tracks.
|Steve charge out of the woods while my guns stand and fire, my infantry counter-charges, supported by the other battery just out of view at the left bottom corner of the frame|
|Garry consolidates his infantry to meet Tim's threat|
Now it was time for my attempt at a game-breaker!
I could see Steve was bringing up more infantry on my right flank, but his horse-gun battery was stopping my infantry from taking the initiative and I didn't have enough infantry in reserve to like the odds if he managed move all his infantry to the front.
My second Chasseur regiment maneuvered behind the cover of my central infantry brigade to prepare for a charge against the guns and, with luck, anything that lay beyond!
In a spectacular charge that not only cleaned up the artillery, but a battalion of infantry in its path, the Chasseurs' charge and a subsequent infantry charge forced a Divisional morale check on Steve's command! They were only forced to retire, but it took the pressure off my right flank. Unfortunately the Chasseurs didn't survive their charge, being fired on the flank once they ran out of steam, then breaking to the rear. They did their job! Maybe I should have had some dragoons....
|Chasseurs angle for a charge into the Austrians, protected by the French infantry|
|Uhlans kept at bay by the central infantry brigade|
|In goes the Chasseur charge! First victim; the Austrian horse guns|
|2nd victim; Line infantry battalion|
|Infantry charge the grenzers....|
|....who flee to the woods. Chasseurs in a pickle about to be fired on in the flank.|
|Steve's division retires after failed divisional moral check|
Meanwhile, Garry had managed to consolidate his line in the face of Tim's threatening move and there ensued a colossal infantry stoush, that ended slightly in Garry's favour. Tim's attempt at forcing through the centre was stopped.
Steve's infantry in the central woods found themselves on Tim's flank, so it was up to me to deal with them. With some artillery fire and an infantry charge at the closest battalion, which broke allowing me to carry on into the flank of the main threat, Tim's line was preserved. (It took a little subtle coaching from Tim as to the sequencing of this attack: "NO! Not that one! Yes, that one!").
|Tim and Garry go toe-to-toe|
|Steve brings up reinforcements on his left flank|
|Steve's threat to Tim's attack in the centre|
|After the sequencing advice(!), one Austrian battalion breaks allowing me to charge the flank of the remaining one|
|Steve's Uhlans charge the sqaure|
In a final act, Steve broke his massive Uhlan into 2 units and charged one of them at the infantry battalion which had just cleared the woods. In previous games I haven't had much luck with forming square in response to cavalry charges, even with reasonable troops, á la my Walloon Guards last game. This time, however, I rolled extremely well and formed square in the nick of time. While the resulting combat didn't go to plan, because I was in square I only suffered some minor casualties and stayed where I was.
The game ended there as a draw, as Tim and Garry couldn't land a decisive blow on each other. On my side, even though I'd forced a divisional retire, I don't think I had the reserves to be able to force the issue, especially as I now had no cavalry and Steve had brought his into action.
It was a terrific game with many a twist and turn with one side ascendant, then the other, with neither able to land the knockout punch.
If only we had more time; As it was we were one of the last tables to pack up and left shortly before midnight on a bitterly cold Melbourne winter's night!
|The situation at the end of the game: Tim's infantry forced back and Steve's Uhlans bounce off my sqaure|