Monday, November 14, 2016


Vistula Lancers unleashed!

Two weeks ago Tim invited all comers to test out the Austerlitz battlefield with 1500 points of their favourite armies. Of course, as I will be playing on the Allied side during the real Austerlitz game, I chose to play on the French side (it made sense at the time; how, I can't recall...)! I got to blood the Vistula Lancers, and although they didn't manage any Albuera-style heroics, they did OK, but more on that later.

We swapped sides from the historical battle with the French in possession of the heights and the Allies having to seize them from the French. I held the right flank opposite Jim's Austrians. In our little pre-game strategy meeting we decided that Garry (on the left flank) and I would attack our opposing numbers and try and pin them, preventing them from supporting the assault on the heights in the centre of our line. Tim and Darren would absorb the Allied attacks and launch local counter-attacks until the Allies had exhausted themselves before a general attack along the line. 

I had hoped to attack Jim's Austrians where they linked up with John S.'s Russians, forcing a gap between the two and them rolling up Jim from his exposed flank with my cavalry. Things were looking good until it actually came to combat. Then the wheels fell off in a display of totally awful dice rolling. I definitely didn't appease the Dice Gods before hand, but I truly don't understand what I have done to anger them so much! I can only be thankful that Jim was either on a defend order, or was afraid I had a cunning Plan B to unleash on him. His left wing featured a couple of 12lb batteries which could have really chewed me up if he'd put them on my flank during my attack approach. Instead, he kept them in line with the supporting infantry in closed column and his light cavalry covering the flank. My cavalry outnumbered his, so I suppose he didn't feel confident that any aggressive use of his artillery was worth potentially losing them to my cavalry and having his flank opened up. 

Even though my cavalry outnumbered his, I had to deal with it before I could threaten his flank and that was easier said than done. First I had to get my cavalry into a position to threaten his. I'd put the lancers in the middle of my division, hoping to use them to force Jim's infantry into square and then pummelling the squares with artillery before sending in the infantry to finish then off. That plan changed when I realised that his flank was protected by a regiment of hussars, which outclassed my hussars protecting my flank. I needed the added oomph of the lancers to add to my hussars in order to best the Austrian cavalry. The lancers accordingly moved to the flank, away from the centre. I realised I was facing 12lb artillery as the cavalry moved up and I started taking casualties from long range fire!

That was just another reason to target the Austrian brigade facing my left. First, though, I wanted to clear his jaegers away with my own skirmishers. Really, I should have put more than just one battalion out in skirmish order, because it turned out we were evenly matched in ability as well as numbers, so it just came down to the dice roll in our skirmish combat. That gave an early indication that the dice were not running in my favour! In our first combat, the results were inconclusive, and devolved into plain old fire between both sides. Firing at skirmishers (even by skirmishers!) is an exercise in wishful thinking as only rolling a 1 or 2 on a 10 sided die will result in casualties, but Jim seemed up to the task! Eventually I lost enough skirmishers for his to be on the verge of overwhelming mine, and then start disordering the ranks of my columns which had been steadily moving up to a position where they could launch a charge. Rather than let that happen, I launched the charge at Jim's line. I thought I had a pretty good shot of punching through the line, forcing a retire at least. After that, I would have brought up the reserve to exploit the gap and then start rolling up the line. That was the plan....

The charge went in, but the combined infantry and artillery fire, coupled with a poor pre-melee die roll, meant that my charge halted at 2" with two disorders; just about the worst result, as you're left in limbo ripe for counter-attack! Jim contented himself with blazing away with his 12lb artillery which tore through the nearest columns. The column closest to the guns had the general attached (I should have attached him to the charging columns instead) in an effort to block the artillery's field of fire from my charge (it failed). In the aftermath of the attack's failure, this column was fired on by the 12lb artillery and in a sequence of die rolling worthy of dear departed Pistol Pete, Jim rolled double 0, killing the general! In the resulting morale test of the nearest units under his command, the one he was attached to broke and ran, while 3 others merely retired, further disordering my line.

Thankfully, Jim didn't take this opportunity to charge his whole line at me while I was in trouble, but John launched a brigade charge at the columns which had survived the morale test and had not incurred any further penalties. I chose to counter-charge and meet them head on, which I felt would be the best option; I would have needed some lucky shooting to stop him purely with firepower. My decision paid off, as the fighting resulted in only a minor victory for him, forcing my troops to retire, but leaving him exposed in turn. I couldn't exploit that fact, though, as in retiring my columns had been forced back through their supports, disordering both units.

Jim's infantry began their flanking move, but as they were conscripts their movement was limited. The big 12lb artillery remained where they were, thankfully, but the battalion guns attached to the infantry proved annoying.

During this lull, I withdrew to reorder my troops in preparation for another go. To keep Jim on his toes and make him think twice about advance too far, I launched a charge against his hussars with my combined light cavalry force. In what should have been an overwhelming success, I rolled crap again and only forced him to retire. If I'd smashed his hussars, I would have ended deep in the Austrian rear, forcing him to weaken his line to respond and allowing my infantry to go on to the offensive again. As it was, his hussars were still in relatively good shape and my cavalry were blown and disordered close to his big guns; again, the worst possible result!

The action shifted to my left, where John was advancing steadily on Darren's position. Darren protected the flank between our two positions with a pair of small hussar units, but on his other flank his nasty carabiniers lurked. Firstly, he sent an infantry charge in line at John's infantry, but he must have been standing too close to me and been infected with my bad dice juju; he needed to roll anything but a 1 on a d6 for the charge to succeed. What did he roll? A 1 of course! His attack faltered at 2" with 2 disorders!

Didn't really matter as his carabiniers steamed in to finish the job the infantry couldn't. His hussars then took on their counterparts in an inconclusive scrap, while John's brigade not getting chewed up by carabiniers had another go at my left flank. I again counter-charged and again ended up in a stalemate.

My infantry which had failed in their attack on Jim's Austrians had regrouped, though another one battered by 12lb artillery fire broke and fled. A replacement general had appeared by now and managed to rally the first broken battalion, but this one was too far gone and bolted for the rear. In the skirmish scrap I was well and truly coming off second best, so I thought it high time to withdraw them and go on the offensive again. By this time the game was nearing its end, though. In a last hurrah, I charged my cavalry and finally managed to wipe out the Austrian cavalry, which would have opened up Jim's flank and rear. Saved by the bell, though, Jim remained on the field of battle while my infantry hadn't advanced much further than they'd started.

On the rest of the table, Garry had inflicted a crushing defeat on Quinny's Russians while Tim had routed Bill's Austrian division. In order to keep the game going Bill was allowed to pull back to reorder and live to fight on, rather than be forced to flee the field as his failed divisional morale check required. This provided a hard scrap in the centre where Tim ended the game still in possession of the heights, but with Bill's resurrected Austrians pressing Tim's French hard. Half of John's division had been routed by Darren's carabiniers while the other half were in good condition. I can't recall if his divisional morale check forced him back at this late stage or not, but I was planning to attack both Jim and John once my cavalry started sowing panic in their rear. However, time, my dice and Jim's obstinacy all conspired against me!

Thanks again to Tim for hosting a fun game on the BIG table and giving us a taste of what to expect in January. I'll be defending the heights again, but this time as a Russian, so I won't be feeling nearly so aggressive, I reckon!

My division holding the right flank

The Austerlitz board looking from the French right with the heights in the centre.

Jim's Austrian division on the Allied left flank.

Skirmished Jaegers, Hungarian infantry with battalion guns and the big $%!* 12lb artillery.

Jim's Austrian infantry and battalion guns.

Austrian hussars.

John's Russian infantry.

More of his Russians and their artillery

Looking down the French line.

These chaps were tasked with the job of attacking the Austrian infantry.

My cavalry move out to take on the Austrian cavalry and discover that Jim's guns are big f#*&ers!

My infantry form up behind the skirmish line in preparation for the big push

Reserves behind the artillery wait to exploit the breakthrough
The brigade on the left keep a weather eye on the Russians...

...supported by Darren's hussars.

"Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!"

The artillery fires over the skirmish line in support of the upcoming attack

Skirmishers ping away at each other to no effect

Battalion columns shuffle into place behind skirmish line.

On the right flank, the cavalry try to get into a threatening position. Hussars have lost a figure to long range artillery.

Between the cavalry on the right and the infantry in the centre, a big gap yawns in front of 12 pounder artillery and supporting infantry.

Meanwhile, to the centre-left rear, the artillery an reserve await developments

The charge goes in! The right hand column has lost a figure to supporting artillery fire (and I was lucky it was on one figure!)

But the fire of the line and its supporting battalion guns has knocked another figure off from the central battalion.

Casualties and displeasure of the Dice Gods mean the attack stalls with disorders!

Then things go from bad to worse: The next blast of artillery fire kills the general!

The resulting morale test causes one battered battalion to flee...

...while two others are forced to retire with extra disorders!

John chooses his moment to charge while the French are still reeling. Two French battalions counter-charge the Russians in a do-or-die effort.

The combat forces the French to retire with maximum disorders, but stops the Russians from following through into the main body of  disordered French infantry.

In order to discourage Jim from wheeling his flank around to envelop my infantry, the cavalry attack the Austrian hussars

But in another display of displeasure, the Dice Gods transform what should have been a knockout blow into a minor victory, leaving Jim's cavalry on the field and mine open to flank fire!

Apparently Darren was standing too close to me, as his attacks on John's position failed miserably!

Another battalion mauled by Jim's artillery flees to the rear!

Jim begins a tentative flanking movement on my right flank...

...while the French recover from their disorder. Note the skirmishers forced back behind the main body.

The Russians seemed to be the main threat now. My extreme left battalion is forced into square

The central brigade moves up in order to take on any Russian or Austrian aggression, blocking the guns (which hadn't played a big role til now anyway).

The skirmish line re-enters the fray in order to protect the columns from the Austrians' harrassing fire.

The re-spawned general successfully rallies one of the broken battalions! Huzzah!

Darren's carabiniers launch a devastating charge into the Russian lines!

His infantry try to emulate the carabiniers success, but seem to still be affected by their proximity to my bad dice juju!

However, his hussars aren't and manage to see off the Russian hussars. Huzzah!

John tries a brigade charge which is met by a French counter charge and results in another inconclusive combat.

The depleted Vistula Lancers and the 2nd Hussars charge the Austrian hussars again, and this time the Dice Gods smile on me!

So, while I still held my position against both John and Jim, I had finally dealt with the Austrian cavalry and theoretically could outflank him. Theoretically, because time had run out. John was in trouble from Darren's attacks, but was still handling the troops left to him aggressively. Tim's tussle for the heights with Bill was still in the balance, while Garry had dealt with Quinny's Austrians decisively. With the heights still in dispute the game was called a draw.

Just another couple of turns could have made all the difference. Just a couple of turns!
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